In most years, the New England Patriots would be holding their first official training camp practice on the final Thursday of July.
The bleachers surrounding the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium would be packed to the gills with excited Patriots fans getting their first look at new quarterback Cam Newton.
Obviously, this is not most years. Fans will not be permitted to attend any practices this summer, and all NFL teams will also be pushing back the start of their training camp practices.
So, here’s the timeline for the Patriots this summer:
— Players are in the process of undergoing coronavirus testing. Once they pass three tests, they can report to the facility. Healthy Patriots players will be reporting this upcoming Saturday and Sunday for physicals and equipment fitting.
— Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is scheduled to speak to the media Friday. Players will begin holding media availability this Sunday, though don’t expect to hear from Newton until late next week. All interviews with players and coaches will be held virtually this summer and almost certainly into the season, as well.
— Training camp practices don’t begin until Aug. 12. From Aug. 3 to 11, players will be working on strength and conditioning and learning in a walk-through setting.
— From Aug. 12 to 16, practices will be unpadded. Full-contact drills begin Aug. 17 and will last through the beginning of the season. All preseason games have been canceled. The Patriots’ Week 1 matchup is home against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 13. It has yet to be determined if fans will be in the stadium for that game, though there will be a max capacity of about 20 percent.
— This season is also different from most summers because the majority of Patriots players couldn’t report to the facility for the offseason workout program, which includes organized team activities and minicamp practices. Only players rehabbing injuries were allowed at Gillette Stadium while the rest only attended virtual meetings through Webex.
— Media is allowed to attend practice on a limited basis. There will likely be less than 30 media members allowed to attend the sessions per day. So, fans will still get a peek behind the curtain through daily practice reports.
— Six Patriots players have opted out for the 2020 season: linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, right tackle Marcus Cannon, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran. No Patriots players have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates a positive test or close contact with someone who has tested positive.