After kicking off full-team practices last week, and working exclusively on conditioning and fundamentals before that, the New England Patriots will return to the practice fields on Monday wearing full pads for the first time since their playoff exit in January: the team and the rest of the league enter the third and final phase of training camp under the new structure agreed upon in the NFL-NFLPA Coronavirus deal.
This so-called “contact integration period” will cover the rest of camp and include a total of 14 padded practices — starting at 90 minutes with a 15-minute daily increase. The Patriots will hold the first of those sessions on Monday morning at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s at a modified pace or schedule, but the drills themselves and the sequence of those are essentially what they’ve been,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the start of camp. “It’s just done in a different time frame and it’s done over a six to seven week period instead of the three days a week in the spring and then the four days a week at the end, then a training camp period. This is what every college team does. Every college team goes to training camp, whatever it is, three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks before their first game.
Essentially, after we get past [the ramp-up phases], when you start at the 17th, that puts us about in that four week period until the first regular season game,” New England’s head coach continued. “One of those weeks would be preparation for the opener. So, it’s very similar to what the college programs have always done and what they’re doing now. We just have to modify what we do to be more similar or try to replicate it to a degree to what college teams do every single year.”
New England will enter full-contact work with 75 players on its active roster following a series of roster moves over the last few days — from officially signing free agent running back Lamar Miller and subsequently placing him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), to releasing youngsters Quincy Adeboyejo and Nick Coe, to the retirement of seventh-round rookie Dustin Woodard. Belichick already mentioned that the team will make further roster moves over the course of camp.
While fans are not allowed in as part of the league’s Covid-19 protocols, the media will get access to practice for the first time today. Accordingly, you can expect an uptick in coverage here at Pats Pulpit.