The New England Patriots’ training camp has already started two weeks ago, but today the team was on the practice field together for the first time this offseason. Players and coaches held a 90-minute session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, all while trying to maintain social distancing guidelines and other Coronavirus-based safety measures.
The session itself took place in sunny and warm conditions, with the team wearing helmets but no pads: the Patriots were in helmets and shorts for today’s session, which consisted of a stretching period and individual group work. Neither fans nor reporters were allowed in, but the team did live-stream the first 30 minutes of the session on its website.
Based on that stream, here is a very short recap of what happened:
Not spotted: WR Quincy Adeboyejo (?), DT Beau Allen (?), LB De’Jon Harris (?), CB Michael Jackson Sr. (?), LB Brandon King (PUP), RB Sony Michel (PUP), CB Joejuan Williams (?)
Returned (after ending 2019 on IR/PUP/NFI): C David Andrews, OT Yodny Cajuste, G Hjalte Froholdt, FB Jakob Johnson, DT Darius Kilgo, QB Cam Newton, WR Gunner Olszewski, LB Derek Rivers, CB D’Angelo Ross
- The list of players not spotted has to be taken with a big grain of salt. Not only did the stream’s cuts not allow for a fully accurate picture when it comes to attendance, rookies also wore non-regular numbers which made spotting especially those that went undrafted hard. The four non-PUP players that were not seen could therefore have very well been part of the action after all.
- No injuries were spotted during the 30 minutes that were shown in the stream.
- The offense started out on the western practice field that would normally be closest to the fans. After stretching, the unit split up into various positional groups going through individual running drills — from passing, to catching, to blocking.
- The quarterback battle between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham for Tom Brady’s former starting role is now officially underway, but it was Brian Hoyer who took the first rep in every round. He was followed by Stidham, Newton and undrafted rookie Brian Lewerke. The order itself likely has little meaning and seems to be based more on seniority than anything else.
- At one point running back James White joined a pass-catching drill that also featured five wide receivers: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers and Devin Ross. White being part of the group is a reflection of his role on the roster as New England’s number one receiving back.
- Speaking of a pass-catching drill: Sanu’s quick footwork stood out, which is especially noteworthy considering that he opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) after undergoing offseason surgery on his ankle.
- The defense started out on the eastern practice field that would normally be farthest from the fans. After stretching, the unit split up into two groups with the front-seven working together and the secondary doing the same — all under the watchful eyes of some new position coaches: DeMarcus Covington (defensive line), Steve Belichick (outside linebackers) and Brian Belichick (safeties).
- While Rashod Berry is listed as a tight end on the Patriots’ roster, he does have some experience playing on the defensive line as well. It was therefore no surprise to see him partake in the front-seven drills mentioned above.
- The Patriots worked on kick coverage drills during the early portion of the session. Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Terrence Brooks, Cody Davis and Rex Burkhead were at the heart of the group. J.C. Jackson also received some regular looks.
- The group of return men included incumbent punt returner Gunner Olszewski as well as offseason acquisitions Damiere Byrd, Kyle Dugger and Isaiah Zuber.
- Julian Edelman did not wear a team logo on his helmet.
- New England’s coaches were spotted wearing face masks during the session and when interacting with players.
- The Patriots will return to practice fields tomorrow for a session that is not open to the public, even for the cameras.