Despite the last three weeks of offseason workouts being strictly voluntary, the New England Patriots still had solid attendance: around two thirds of the roster were present at all times during the 10 organized team activity practices, including a majority of veterans and team leaders.
This week will be different, though, as the workouts will turn from voluntary to mandatory. That is right, minicamp is upon us.
The Patriots will hit the practice fields three times this week, and every player on the roster with the exception of those rehabbing from injury will either be present or subject to fines of up to $93,085. Despite Covid-19 restrictions all sessions will furthermore be open to select members of the media, which means that plenty of reports will be coming out of Foxboro over the course of the week.
The schedule for minicamp week looks as follows:
- Monday, June 14: Practice (10:45 am ET), media availability
- Tuesday, June 15: Practice (TBA), media availability
- Wednesday, June 16: Practice (TBA), media availability
In years past, the Patriots would also have held physicals leading up to minicamp. Practice starting on Monday is an indication that that is not the case in 2021: given that no weekend activities allowed per the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement it is apparent that the club opted to forgo physicals this year.
As a result of this, the team starts its three days worth of practices on Monday and will wrap things up on Wednesday.
So, what will happen over the coming days?
According to the CBA, players are allowed only three and a half hours of on-field work each day, with no single session exceeding two and a half hours in length. Furthermore, the general offseason rules apply: no full-contact or tackling drills are permitted, teams will not be in pads, and the focus lies on teaching rather than competition.
Nevertheless, the three practices this week will give us a clearer picture of where the Patriots stand at this point in the process: How do rookies and offseason acquisitions look? How is the depth chart currently constructed? How do players coming off injury move?
All of those questions will get some answers this week, even though the biggest storylines will certainly center around attendance and the quarterback position: Will previous absentees such as star cornerback Stephon Gilmore be present, and how will the quarterbacks — Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer — perform?
Minicamp is just one stop on the road to the 2021 season, but the first that will see the whole team work alongside each other. A few interesting days are ahead of all of us.