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Patriots leave no stone unturned to prepare for their regular season opener in Miami

Related: Isaiah Wynn among 3 players not spotted at Patriots practice on Thursday

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Traveling to Miami has not been a particularly enjoyable experience for the New England Patriots recently. The team has lost two straight on the road against the Dolphins, and has gone just 3-7 at Hard Rock Stadium over the last decade.

In order to change their fortunes, the Patriots are leaving no stone unturned. Not only did they hold joint training camp practices in Las Vegas in late August to get experience in similar heat conditions, they also will fly to Miami earlier than usual to get acclimated to the temperatures and humidity they will face in South Florida.

While usually traveling to road games a day before, the Patriots will already board the plane on Tuesday this week — five days before their Week 1 contest versus the Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Drastic times calling for drastic measures, or the team just taking advantage of its schedule? Maybe a bit of both. Regardless of Bill Belichick’s motivations to book an early flight for his team, the players welcome the decision.

“I think it’ll be huge,” said safety Kyle Dugger last week. “Just getting there early and feeling it. Going out there and running around, getting adjusted. It doesn’t take long. The heat is what it is down there, so it’s not going to take long to get adjusted. But I think it’s going to be super beneficial.”

Two years into his career, Dugger has played just once in Miami: he was part of a 22-12 loss to the Dolphins in 2020 before sitting out last week’s regular seasons finale due to injury.

Fellow defensive back Jalen Mills has slightly more experience, playing twice in South Beach — once as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019, once with the Patriots last season. Both contests ended in defeat for Mills’ teams.

The cornerback also thinks that getting properly acclimated to the conditions will be key for the Patriots this week.

“I think that’s the biggest thing: getting acclimated to the heat,” Mills said. “We can always be more conditioned, in better condition; Bill preaches that in Week 15. I think that’s kind of the biggest thing, going out there and practicing fast and executing at a high tempo.”

Whereas Dugger, Mills and a significant portion of the Patriots roster have played comparatively few games at Hard Rock Stadium, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux is in a different situation. He spent the first four years of his career with the Dolphins and appeared in 52 total games for the organization — including 25 at home.

Godchaux knows that players getting a feel for the heat will be crucial for the Patriots’ success on Sunday.

“It’s going to be very important to go down there early to get the guys who haven’t been in the league and haven’t played in Miami accustomed to the weather,” he said. “Going down there however many days we’re going down early is going to be great for guys to get acclimated to the heat. It’s either going to be a hot one or it’s going to be raining, so it’s very important to get down there early.”

The early forecast projects temperatures in the low 90s and possible rain showers. A lot can naturally change over the coming days, and the Patriots are making sure to be prepared.