The Bill Belichick era officially began Wednesday in Foxboro as the Patriots new coach held a mandatory meeting with his staff and players in anticipation of the start of the offseason strength and conditioning workouts, which begin on Monday.
With the exception of the five Patriots who will be heading overseas to play in NFL Europe, only Lee Johnson was not in attendance. Belichick gave the veteran punter special permission to miss the meeting in order to attend the wedding of San Francisco quarterback and good friend Steve Young in Hawaii.
Belichick addressed the media following the meeting and said that everyone would be taking part in the program on some level.
"It was nice to see some familiar faces," Belichick said. "I talked to them about how competitive this division is and about the hard work it's going to take to succeed. We're focusing on the importance of what happens between now and the start of training camp."
Wide receiver Terry Glenn, who has been criticized in the past for not participating in the program fulltime, was on hand and expects to be in New England throughout the spring.
"Bill wants everyone here and I'll be here," Glenn said. "This is the start of something big and I'm going to be here to be part of it. I'm excited and I'm a player who wants to win and that's what I'm looking forward to. I think the guys really feel a respect factor for Bill and Bill brings a lot to the table."
New strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik and his assistant, Markus Paul, will oversee the workouts, which begin on Monday and will take place four times a week. The program consists of combinations of running, stretching and lifting exercises that vary by position and player. Woicik and Paul are in the process of finding the different levels each player is at physically and finding alternatives for certain players unable to work on specific areas due to injury.
Overall, the atmosphere around the stadium was extremely upbeat.
"The guys are looking forward to getting started and putting last year behind them," guard Todd Rucci said. "Bill is definitely in charge and everything is very structured. It's going to be, 'This is what we expect from you and you either do it or don't do it and we're going to go with the guys who follow suit.' That's what we expect as players and we look forward to and I think it was a really good response from the players."