CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Patriots' workouts this week at Boston College haven't been about intensity, and they surely aren't using them as a primer to get in shape for training camp.
The purpose of the workouts, mainly, has been to get back together on the field. For the most part, the roster is comprised of players who are scattered across the country. While about a dozen of them live in New England year round, many have seasonal homes in Florida and California, among other locales.
Therefore, they haven't been able to convene en masse, not without the lure of offseason workout bonuses they'd typically receive for reporting to Gillette Stadium in the spring.
So, this week has been about catching up on old times and trying to set the tone for training camp, whenever that happens to be.
"The best thing about it is we get to hear some plays again," said running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was one of 47 players on hand for Thursday's session. "Everybody gets familiar with the sounds and the terms. The best thing about it, we get to work together and bring guys along as fast as we could."
There have been about a half dozen rookies at the workouts, and that will give them a chance to check in on NFL life. It's a big commitment — they haven't made a dime yet — but it's a necessary one to ensure they don't fall too far behind. The rookies don't have playbooks, but they can at least begin to learn the team's terminology. And by reporting this week, they'll get the meet-and-greet process out of the way, which will be even more important this year because teams will have a higher sense of urgency to get down to business when camp begins.
The feeling of camaraderie is also a significant measure in the team-building process. The Patriots were adamant about that last offseason when they reported to Gillette in huge numbers for voluntary workouts, and they were convinced it benefited them during the season.
"It's huge for us just to come together," linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. "Whenever this lockout is over with, if you don't get together, that's months of not being with your teammates. So I think this is good just to kind of get a little jumpstart on some things, especially for the younger guys. It's going to help them."
The Patriots have run through some drills as a refresher course, but it's hard to see any long-term benefit in terms of X's and O's from Wednesday's and Thursday's sessions, which have totaled about three and a half hours of on-field work.
Football has brought them together, but this week's workouts run deeper than the drills. That's what they're trying to accomplish.
"It's good to see everybody," quarterback Brian Hoyer said. "It's good to be around all these guys. That's the main thing."
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