The New England Patriots’ offseason workout program began on April 18, and was originally scheduled to come to an end this week. However, head coach Bill Belichick opted to cancel the final practice of mandatory minicamp last Thursday and the two organized team activities set to take place on Monday and Tuesday.
The team’s offseason workout program is therefore now officially wrapped up, raising the question: What comes next? While the first impulse may be to scream “Vacation!” not all of the Patriots’ players are indeed headed into their summer break yet.
Let’s lay out the schedule for the coming weeks.
Rookie developmental program (May 16-July 1): Whereas the Patriots’ veterans have already left offseason workouts behind them, the team’s rookie class will continue to participate in the so-called rookie developmental program for the next two weeks. The program itself is meant to give first-year players a better start into their pro football lives.
It is governed by the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, with timing restraints in place not to overwork the youngsters:
During a Club’s Rookie Football Development Program, players may only participate in Club activities for a maximum of eight hours per day. Players may participate in on-field activities for no more than three and one-half hours per day. The on-field time limits described above shall begin as soon as position coaches begin to coach a player or players on the field.
Additionally, New England will host a so-called rookie readiness program in late June. Effectively a mandatory orientation meeting, it will expand upon the developmental program by taking a more holistic look at the rookie experience.
The Patriots have 16 players participating in the rookie developmental and rookie readiness programs: G Cole Strange, WR Tyquan Thornton, CB Marcus Jones, CB Jack Jones, RB Pierre Strong Jr., QB Bailey Zappe, RB Kevin Harris, DT Sam Roberts, OL Chasen Hines, OL Andrew Stueber, OL Kody Russey, DT LaBryan Ray, DE DaMarcus Mitchell, DB Brenden Schooler, P Jake Julien, LS Ross Reiter.
Summer break (June 9/July 1-July 22): While New England’s rookie class will not yet start its summer vacation, the veteran players on the roster — i.e. 69 of 85 currently under contract — are already enjoying their time off. Obviously, though, time off is relative in the NFL. While there is no practice schedule, players will continue to work out on their own or under team supervision to get in shape for the rigors of training camp and preseason football.
Still, the summer break gives players and coaches alike an opportunity to spend time with their families and to take care of personal matters as head coach Bill Belichick pointed out at this point in 2021.
“I think this is the opportunity for everyone individually to handle the things that they need to handle on their personal lives and preparations to the season to make sure that when they come to training camp and they start the season, that they’re ready to go,” he said. “Some things will be difficult to do because of our time commitments during the season, that maybe some of those can be done between now and the start of training camp.”
Training camp (starting July 27): The Patriots announced on Tuesday that their first training camp practice will take place on Wednesday, July 27. Players will have to arrive earlier than that, though. Based on past schedules, we can project that rookies and previously injured/rehabbing veterans will have to report for medical checkups as early as July 23. Healthy veterans, meanwhile, will report back to Gillette Stadium on July 26.
The first practice taking place on July 27 will once again be open to he public, as will be he subsequent sessions that have already been announced on July 28-30.
Preseason (starting August 11): The Patriots will take the next major step in their development on August 11, welcoming the New York Giants to Gillette Stadium for both teams’ preseason opener.
New England will follow this contest with two set of joint practices. They will host the Carolina Panthers ahead of their preseason contest on August 19 and will travel to Las Vegas to work with Josh McDaniels’ Raiders ahead of their August 26 bout.