NFL Rumors: Patriots Open Offseason Program With ‘Virtual Workouts’


Apr 20, 2020

Preparations for the 2020 season officially are underway for the New England Patriots.

The Patriots were one of 12 NFL teams to begin their offseason program Monday, according to a report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. The remaining 20 will kick off theirs next week.

Of course, with all team facilities temporarily shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s offseason program will not take place at Gillette Stadium. It remains to be seen when Patriots players will be permitted to reconvene, and it’s unclear exactly what this socially distanced program will entail.

NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo provided a few hints, however, reporting that New England is one of three teams — along with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts — holding “virtual workouts.” The rest currently are focusing on mental prep without any physical training.

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the virtual nature of this offseason in a conference last week. He noted the similarities to 2011, when the NFL lockout wiped out offseason workouts, but said teams’ ability to communicate with their players this time around will accelerate the teaching process.

“We’re looking at a situation where the opportunity to train for some players may be more limited, but our opportunity to communicate with them and teach them, even though it’s remote, is infinitely better than what it was during the lockout,” Belichick said. “So we’ll just have to see how all that plays out, but I do think that from a teaching standpoint, we can get a lot of teaching done that we weren’t able to do nine, 10 years ago in a similar but different situation. I think, with the teaching part, that we’ll hopefully be OK.

“I think the fundamental part of it, the execution part of it, the timing and so forth is going to be probably similar to what it was in the lockout in 2011 when you’re just dealing with training camp and you have to really accelerate the teaching or the execution and the teamwork and so forth — you just don’t have that good base to fall back on that we’ve been used to in the spring. At least, it doesn’t appear that way now.

“Maybe that will change. Maybe we will be able to work with the players — we’ll have to see how all that goes — but even if we don’t, relative to the 2011 season, I think we’ll have a better opportunity to teach. And that’s what we’re focused on in the spring is to get as much teaching done as we can, and then we’ll see what kind of opportunities we have to actually work on the field.”

The 2020 NFL Draft, which also will be held virtually, begins Thursday night. The 2020 regular-season schedule is set to be announced May 8 or 9.

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Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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