Even with the Coronavirus pandemic still impacting life in the NFL, the New England Patriots’ offseason workout program is fully underway. The first phase of voluntary work is already in the books, as is rookie minicamp. With Phase 2 now underway as well, we can also look at what lies ahead further down the line: this year’s training camp.
While a lot can still change due to the unpredictability of Covid-19, there is confidence that the Patriots will hold this year’s camp in a relatively standard setting again. At the very least they plan to have their player report in late July as was recently announced by the club. In turn, we can project the following early schedule for the team’s 2021 camp:
- Sunday, July 25: Report date rookies/injured veterans
- Wednesday, July 28: Report date healthy veterans
- Thursday, July 29: First practice
Upon reporting for camp, all of the players will go through medical checks and either be placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) or hit the practice fields if cleared. Players rehabbing from recent medical procedures or season-ending injuries are prime candidates for this designation, including fifth-round rookie linebacker Cameron McGrone.
As for the Patriots’ camp schedule, we already know a general outline for the first few days beyond the dates mentioned above. As stated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams will practice comparatively lightly for the first three days, wear shorts and shells for the next two, and have Day 6 off. On Day 7, meanwhile, the first full-pad session including player contact will take place — presumably on August 4 this year, if the schedule holds up.
The start of full-pads practices is always a spectacle, and the fact that fans could potentially be in the stands again adds to the excitement surrounding this day and training camp as a whole. After all, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced on Monday that all Covid-19 restrictions would be lifted later this month.
If all goes according to plan, and the Patriots agree to let fans into their practice area behind Gillette Stadium again, this year’s camp could be a return to some much-needed normalcy — and some old fashioned quarterback competition between incumbent Cam Newton and first-round rookie Mac Jones.