Compared to in-season or training camp practices, the New England Patriots’ organized team activity on Tuesday had an unusual format.
The session started with positional drills and ended with some light 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work in a walkthrough setting, bookending some heavy conditioning work. Players had to run 15 minutes sprints between the two segments.
New England doing plenty of running at this time of the year is nothing new. The hill behind the Gillette Stadium practice fields has become famous through the years for its relentless end-of-practice sprint drills. Still, the setting as a whole is a new one for those who just recently joined the organization and have no experience with the so-called “Patriot Way.”
One of those players is wide receiver DeVante Parker, who spoke with reporters following Tuesday’s session.
“First time I ran this much,” the 29-year-old admitted.
Parker spent the first seven seasons of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, but was traded to New England in April. Now a member of the Patriots, he feels right at home despite the club’s run-heavy approach to offseason workouts.
“I actually like when we do a lot more running,” he said. “It’s something we do as receivers. That’s what we do, we run. It’s not really a big issue with running. It’s something we have to do to get our cardio up. I have no problem with that.”
Whereas Parker is new to the program, others such as veteran safety Adrian Phillips have been through the grind before. Phillips therefore knows that the team is currently building for the future, and that investing in running will pay dividends further down the line.
“The more we sprint, the more our bodies get used to it, the more we’ll be able to dominate in the fourth quarter. That’s the plan,” he said.
Phillips arrived in New England back in 2020, and appeared in 34 games over the last two seasons. The ex-Charger once again projects as a starter-level player within the Patriots secondary, meaning that he will face a heavy workload for a third straight year.
Between his responsibilities on defense and special teams, Phillips played a combined 1,962 snaps since his arrival as an unrestricted free agent.
“Just know that, at the end of the day, it makes you better,” Phillips added about the challenging conditioning program. “That’s how I was brought up as a kid. Hard work, smart work, gets you better and eventually you keep persevering, working through the hard stuff, and grinding, it just gets you to where you want to be.
“It shows with the championships that this organization has that they’ve been doing it for a long time. We’re just trying to continue to keep that legacy going and keep working hard.”