How Patriots Are Protecting Players Against COVID-19 In Return To Gillette Stadium

'We have a schedule going on'

The New England Patriots were back at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. But they weren’t all there at once.

As part of their ongoing effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the team, the Patriots staggered Wednesday’s workouts, rotating players through the facility by position group. All meetings were held virtually.

This became evident during the team’s media availability window. While running back Rex Burkhead and safety Adrian Phillips addressed reporters over video calls from the Patriots’ media workroom, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn did so from his home.

The Patriots’ O-linemen, Wynn said, weren’t scheduled to report to the facility until later in the day.

“We have a schedule going on, so we’ll be in there,” he said.

Last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick canceled practice and closed the facility for three days after cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the coronavirus. When players returned to practice Saturday, they were required to wear masks and adhere to additional distancing requirements.

Patriots players worked away from the facility Sunday, Monday and Tuesday following defensive tackle Byron Cowart’s positive test.

Wednesday’s workout schedule was another example of Patriots coach Bill Belichick sacrificing on-field practice time in the name of player safety. The Patriots are scheduled to practice Thursday and Friday and hold a walkthrough Saturday ahead of Sunday’s rescheduled matchup with the Denver Broncos.

Multiple New England players have commended Belichick’s handling of the team’s COVID situation since quarterback Cam Newton first tested positive 12 days ago.

“It’s a crazy time for everybody,” Wynn said. “The Patriots, from the top to the bottom, have been doing a terrific job of taking precautionary steps needed to make sure everybody else is safe and everybody’s well-being is taken care of.”

Added Burkhead: “(Belichick has) been great. He really has just put our safety, our family’s safety first, and he’s been in constant communication with us on doing whatever he can or whatever the team can to put in things in place to keep us safe. And, you know, that’s great, just knowing he has our back in these situations and these times.”

Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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