With rookie minicamp and the first two phases of voluntary offseason work in the rear-view mirror, the New England Patriots will kick their preparation for the upcoming 2022 season into its highest gear yet. On Monday, Phase 3 will officially be kicked off with the start of organized team activities.
Over the next four weeks, the Patriots will hold 10 such OTA sessions. Additionally, they will conduct their mandatory minicamp — the only part of offseason workouts all players have to attend — on June 7-9.
While the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents teams from running contact drills throughout the offseason, Phase 3 will still present a change in competitiveness and overall intensity. Whereas Phase 1 focused on strength and conditioning and Phase 2 allowed some early on-field drills and group work, Phase 3 will resemble regular practice.
For the first time all offseason, after all, the offense and defense will be allowed to line up opposite each other for 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills. Times in the facility are strictly regulated and players are limited to wearing helmets but neither shells nor pads when at practice, but this is the closest to “real football” that the team will come between the end of the playoffs and the start of training camp in late July.
For the Patriots, this means the following:
Practice times: During the 10 days of OTAs, players are allowed at Gillette Stadium for no more than six hours per day. On-field times are limited to two hours each day. Rookie players work under a different set of rules: participating in the so-called rookie developmental program they can be at the club facility for up to eight hours per day, with time on the field capped at three-and-a-half hours.
Drills: No one-on-one drills are allowed in Phase 3, which means that offensive and defensive linemen will not go at each other; neither will wide receivers and defensive backs. Outside of the 10-yard line, however, simulated press coverage is permitted to teach hand technique. Additionally, special teams drills (e.g. kicking versus return) are permitted as well as long as no live contact occurs. The same is true for team drills in 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 formats.
Practice schedule: A total of 10 OTA practices have been scheduled by the club, even though it would not be a surprise to see the final one or two eventually get canceled (something the team did regularly in the past). Those sessions will take place on May 23-24, May 26, June 1-3, June 13-14, and June 16-17. Mandatory minicamp, as noted above, is set to take place June 7-9.
Media access to these OTA sessions is limited to a few hours, but Pats Pulpit will give you all the information available. Please make sure to regularly check back, or to follow both @patspulpit and our beat writer, Ryan Spagnoli (@ryan_spags), on Twitter for regular updates.