Patriots Notes: How Bill Belichick Brought Team Back To Earth After Ring Ceremony


FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ final open organized team activities session, held Tuesday on the fields outside Gillette Stadium:

— The Patriots received their Super Bowl LI championship rings Friday night, effectively closing the book on New England’s wildly successful 2016 season.

“(2016) was fun, but ’16 is over,” wide receiver Julian Edelman said after practice. “It’s ’17 now. There are no champions. Everyone’s got the same record. Everyone is working hard in heat. It’s one of those things where the teams that can go out and take advantage of these times and really mold together are usually the teams that come out and have good starts to their seasons. So that’s what I’m trying to do personally.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s take on the situation sounded more like a warning to his players — a reminder that the Patriots’ current roster has yet to win a single game, never mind a championship.

“It was a great night, but really, we need to move on to 2017,” Belichick said. “You know, we’ve had enough parades, enough celebrations and enough everything. This ’17 team hasn’t done anything yet — none of us have. We really need to focus on what we’re doing this year. There have been a lot of great moments in the past, which is great, but that isn’t going to help us this year.”

— Edelman was not fully healthy at this point last year. He underwent foot surgery in May 2016, causing him to miss all of New England’s spring practices and keeping him on the shelf until early August.

This time around, he’s injury free. He played in every game last season and avoided the need for any offseason procedures.

“I feel good,” Edelman said. “It’s nice not having to do that kind of stuff, getting surgeries and all that. It gives you an opportunity to get better. That’s what the offseason’s for. When you get hurt, it doesn’t matter if you come in 100 percent feeling fast, feeling quick, feeling explosive. …

“This is how you get better, because when you’re hurt, you’re trying to get healthy. And when you’re getting healthy, other guys are working on their techniques, their fundamentals, and it’s giving them an upper hand.”

Despite his delayed start, Edelman had arguably the best season of his career in 2016, catching 98 passes for a career-high 1,106 yards and three touchdowns. He was rewarded with a two-year contract extension reportedly worth up to $15 million.

— Patriots players experienced the full scope of New England’s notoriously temperamental weather during these spring practices.

A week ago, it was 45 degrees and raining for Day 1 of minicamp. On Tuesday, temperatures topped 90 degrees.

“Instant summer,” Belichick quipped. “Went from 45 to 90 last week. Look, whatever it is, it is. We can’t control that, so whatever it is, we deal with it.”

— Former NFL head coach Chip Kelly stopped by practice Tuesday.

Kelly, a Manchester, N.H., native, reportedly met with the Patriots earlier this year after being fired by the San Francisco 49ers. Nothing came of the meeting, and Kelly went on to take a job as a college football analyst for ESPN.

Other VIP guests during OTAs and minicamp included the coaching staffs from Florida and Vanderbilt; representatives from USA Rugby, including national sevens head coach Mike Friday; the Boston College women’s lacrosse team and former Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton.

— This is the final Patriots Notes package you’ll see for quite some time. The Patriots will hold one more private OTAs practice Thursday before breaking for the summer. They’ll reconvene during the final week of July (exact date TBA) to begin training camp.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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