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The Pats Pulpit Training Camp Guide: Patriots schedule, position battles, practical information, and more

Related: Patriots reportedly work out another pair of free agents before training camp

New England Patriots Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Two years ago, the New England Patriots opened their 2019 training camp as the reigning world champions and in front of thousands of spectators. Little did we know how much would change over the ensuing 24-month span.

Now, they are back — and so are the fans. New England’s 2021 camp is set to open on Wednesday, with Pats Pulpit here to give you all the information you need. So let’s dive right in.

Welcome to our Patriots Training Camp Guide.

Location

2021 New England Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium

Patriot Place

Foxboro, MA 02035

Covid-19 information

Face coverings are optional, but unvaccinated spectators are encouraged by the team to wear them while attending practice. Due to the league’s Covid-19 protocols, players will not be allowed to sign autographs at training camp.

The Patriots will also offer the opportunity to get vaccinated on-site. Free vaccinations will be administered by the Kraft Center for Community Health Mobile Vaccination Clinic to anyone attending the first four days of practice. Fans who receive the Pfizer vaccine on-site will also get a $25 voucher for concessions as well as free admission to the Patriots Hall of Fame. The staff present will help coordinate the second dose needed for full protection.

Reporting and medical examination

  • Rookies: Tuesday, July 20
  • Quarterbacks, veterans returning from injuries: Thursday, July 22
  • Veterans: Tuesday, July 27

Practice sessions

  • Wednesday, July 28: 9:45 am
  • Thursday, July 29: 9:45 am
  • Friday, July 30: 9:45 am
  • Saturday, July 31: 9:45 am
  • Friday, August 6: 6:00 pm*
  • Tuesday, August 10: TBA*

*Those sessions will take place inside Gillette Stadium. The first is open only to season ticket members, season ticket waitlist members and Foxborough residents; the second is open to the general public. No starting times have been announced as of yet.

As usual, admission to the practice sessions is free. Further dates are still to be determined and have not yet been officially announced.

Gates will generally open around 75 minutes before each session (i.e. 8:30 a.m. for morning practices) and close about one hour after. However, please note that the schedule is subject to change if necessary. For instance, if a session has to be relocated to the adjacent Empower Field House indoor facility because of inclement weather, it can no longer be open to the public.

In case you plan to visit training camp, you therefore need to stay up to date. For updates please call 508-549-0001 or visit patriots.com/trainingcamp.

Preseason games

New England will hold joint practice sessions with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants during the week leading up to the respective games. While the Eagles’ sessions will take place in Philadelphia, the Giants practices will be at the Gillette Stadium facility.

Additional important dates

  • August 17: Roster cuts from 90 to 85

We have already reported that cutdowns will look different this year, with the first wave coming after the first preseason weekend. The Patriots will play their first preseason game against Washington on August 12 and will need to trim their roster from 90 to 85 five day later.

  • August 24: Roster cuts from 85 to 80

Five days after their second preseason contest against the Eagles, the Patriots will hold their second round of cuts to get the roster down to 80.

  • August 31: Roster cuts from 80 to 53

The final wave of cuts will happen on August 31. At that point, two days after the preseason finale in New York, the Patriots will part ways with 27 of their players. As on the previous two days they can do so either by waiving them, or by moving them to an injury-based reserve list.

  • September 1: Practice squad establishment

The first practice squad for the 2021 season can be built starting that day. However, it remains to be seen how the practice squad will look like this year after the league increased sizes to 16 in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

  • September 1: Injured reserve return window opens

Players sent to injured reserve or the reserve/non-football injury list ahead of 4 pm on September 1 will not be eligible to return during the 2021 season. Those sent there afterwards, however, can be brought back. The NFL itself acknowledged that the details of those returns will have yet to be determined. Last year, with Covid-19 as a determining factor, players were allowed to be brought back after three missed weeks.

  • September 12: Opening day

The Patriots will welcome the Miami Dolphins to Gillette Stadium to open their 2021 regular season. The game is a rematch of last year’s opener, which was won by New England with a final score of 21-11.

Parking

Parking at the stadium facilities’ parking lots is free for all public practice sessions. If you arrive from the north (e.g. Boston), use parking lot entrance P6. If you arrive from the south (e.g. Providence), use parking lot entrance P8. ADA parking lots can be found in Lot 22. For more information on parking view this map.

Directions

Prior to the 2015 training camp, the Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young and Ben Volin wrote down directions to Gillette Stadium. Since they did a tremendous job and none of the locations have changed, we will just quote them here:

From Boston and farther north: Take I-95 South to Exit 9. Follow Rte. 1 south approximately 3 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the left).

From Cape Cod: I-495 North to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).

From southern Connecticut, Rhode Island: Take I-95 North to I-495 North to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).

From northern Connecticut, Vermont, upstate New York: I-90 East to I-495 South to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).

Autographs

As noted above, players will not be allowed to interact with fans this year due to the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols.

Concessions

The main concession stands will be positioned behind the bleachers. All of them will be cashless.

Bringing your own food and/or beverages to camp is permitted.

Fan activities

The Patriots will offer various fan activities around the practice area. For further information, please take a look at this map.

Participants of physical and interactive activities will not have to fill out any waiver forms beforehand. Signage will be present to make them aware of the team’s terms and conditions.

Visitors with disabilities

As noted above, ADA parking lots can be found in Lot 22 (once more, the map); there are signs leading there. Seating at the facility will be available in all the bleacher sections, located on the western end of the practice fields. For more information, call 508-384-9191.

Prohibited items

The following is a list of things you better leave in your car if you want to watch the Patriots practice: all animals except service animals assisting those with disabilities (don’t leave them in your car, though, but at home), alcoholic beverages, beach balls, bullhorns and air horns, coolers, fireworks or pyrotechnics, flag poles and tripods longer than 2 feet (shorter ones will be allowed), helium balloons, illegal drugs or any other illegal substance, laser pens, noise makers, video cameras, weapons of any kind (including knives), unmanned aircraft systems, remotely controlled model aircraft, drones, selfie sticks. Additionally, any other items deemed inappropriate by stadium management (e.g. New York Jets jerseys) are prohibited.

As usual, the players will not wear names on their jerseys during training camp — only numbers. Therefore, in order to know who made a play, you need to know each player’s number (or at least have them printed out with you). To find the current roster as well as the up-to-date jersey numbers take a look at patriots.com/team/roster.

One distinction can easily be made, though: the Patriots’ offense will once again wear white jerseys, while the defense will wear blue ones. Quarterbacks and players not to be touched will wear red jerseys.

The Patriots have placed the following eight players on the active/physically unable to perform list (PUP) prior to the start of training camp:

  • DT Byron Cowart
  • CB Stephon Gilmore
  • LB Terez Hall
  • TE Dalton Keene
  • LB Brandon King
  • WR Devin Smith
  • QB Jarrett Stidham
  • LB Chase Winovich

Additionally, three players will open camp on the active/non-football injury list (NFI):

  • DB Joshuah Bledsoe
  • LB Cameron McGrone
  • RB Rhamondre Stevenson

All of those players can be activated off the respective injury lists at any time moving forward. If such a move does not happen by final roster cutdowns on August 31, however, the players still remaining on the the active/PUP/NFI lists will transfer to reserve/PUP/NFI; they will no longer count against the 53-man roster but will have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

There will be multiple position battles throughout training camp, but the most intriguing from the current perspective are the following. We are analyzing them in greater detail on PatsPulpit.com, but here is a quick overview.

Quarterback

QB Cam Newton, QB Mac Jones, QB Jarrett Stidham, QB Brian Hoyer

The biggest camp competition this year undoubtably concerns the quarterback position. Incumbent Cam Newton remains the favorite as of right now, but first-round rookie Mac Jones has looked good during offseason workouts and could give him a run for his money.

Defensive edge

LB Josh Uche, LB Chase Winovich, LB Anfernee Jennings, LB Ronnie Perkins, LB Tashawn Bower, LB Rashod Berry, LB Harvey Langi

New England bolstered its defensive edge with the free agency additions of Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy. The two veterans are expected to see plenty of action, but the question remains who will join them in the rotation.

Early-down running back

RB Damien Harris, RB Sony Michel, RB Rhamondre Stevenson

New England’s early-down running back corps is one of the best in the business. While Damien Harris is the front runner to earn the lead role, it remains to be seen how he and the rest of the group will indeed be used this season.

Off-the-ball linebacker

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB/DE Josh Uche, LB/DE Chase Winovich, LB/DE Anfernee Jennings, LB Terez Hall, LB Raekwon McMillan, LB/DE Harvey Langi, LB Cameron McGrone

With Dont’a Hightower back in the fold after his Covid-19 opt-out, the Patriots will have to decide who will line up alongside him and earn the top rotational spots. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall are the incumbent one-two punch but they are not guaranteed to make the roster — unlike some of their competitors.

Slot wide receiver

WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Isaiah Zuber, WR Kristian Wilkerson

New England rebuilt its wide receiver corps this offseason, and the inside positions will be fun to watch over the coming weeks. Jakobi Meyers was the team’s WR1 last year, but the additions of Nelson Agholor and in particular Kendrick Bourne might challenge his standing.

Rotational defensive back

CB/S Joejuan Williams, CB/S Myles Bryant, CB D’Angelo Ross, CB Michael Jackson Sr, CB Dee Virgin, S/CB Joshuah Bledsoe, S Adrian Colbert

New England has one of the deepest secondaries in football, but the depth spots are still open for competition. Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant appear to be the frontrunners as of right now, but the talent level across the group is generally high.

Swing offensive tackle

OT Justin Herron, OT Yodny Cajuste, OT/G Korey Cunningham, OT/G William Sherman, OT/G R.J. Prince

With the starting positions set in stone, the Patriots will have to decide who will join Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown on the roster. Based on his 2020 performance, Justin Herron should be seen as the favorite. That said, the other tackles cannot be underestimated either — be it due to their versatility or potential.

X-wide receiver

WR N’Keal Harry, WR Tre Nixon, WR Kristian Wilkerson, WR Marvin Hall, WR Devin Smith, WR Devin Ross

Free agency addition Nelson Agholor projects as the top boundary receiver, but the other spots in the group are up for grabs. N’Keal Harry is the frontrunner, but if he does not show improvement or indeed is traded somebody else might get an opportunity.

Kickoff returner

WR Gunner Olszewski, S Kyle Dugger, RB J.J. Taylor, WR Marvin Hall, WR N’Keal Harry, RB Sony Michel, WR Isaiah Zuber, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, WR Tre Nixon

Gunner Olszewski returned both punts and kickoffs last year, but the Patriots might prefer to have him focus on only punt runbacks in 2021. Accordingly, the kickoff position could very much be open for competition.

Third tight end

TE Devin Asiasi, TE Dalton Keene, TE Matt LaCosse, TE Troy Fumagalli, TE David Wells, FB Jakob Johnson

New England invested in the two top tight ends on the open market in March, leaving the other one or two spots up for grabs. Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene have draft pedigree as former third-round selections, but the experienced Matt LaCosse cannot be underestimated either.

Analysis

We will have plenty of training camp updates online throughout the summer. Please make sure to regularly check back to PatsPulpit.com for all the latest news, rumors and analysis.

Social media

Throughout training camp, Pats Pulpit will deliver updates and analysis. Besides regularly checking the website, please make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch.

Also, please make sure to give Ryan Spagnoli a follow on Twitter (@Ryan_Spags). He will represent Pats Pulpit in Foxborough to report from training camp.

Podcasts

The Pats Pulpit podcasts will have extensive training camp breakdowns once the action gets underway. To find out how to listen and subscribe, please click here.