FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This April 18 marks a big day in the Greater Boston area, as tens of thousands of runners are giving all they've got in the 126th Boston Marathon. From the official starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., it's just a few miles short of a marathon's distance to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, where the Patriots are off and running today as well – not in a road race, but in Phase One of their 2022 offseason workout program.
Yes, it's springtime in New England, where most of the trees are just beginning to bud and flowers bloom, but over the next nine weeks, it will look more and more like autumn in and around Gillette as the players return for a series of league-sanctioned training sessions.
Here's how those workouts will ramp up between now and mid-June.
The New England Patriots officially reported back to Gillette Stadium today, April 18, 2022, to begin the offseason program, which includes in-person meetings, on-field group drills & full squad workouts.
As stipulated in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with its unionized players, teams that hired new head coaches this offseason were allowed to begin their offseason training up to two weeks ago. The rest, like New England, get underway today or tomorrow.
For the first two weeks, players can only take part in meetings and engage in physical strength and conditioning or rehabilitation exercises, all for a limited amount of time each day.
For the three weeks thereafter, on-field individual and group instruction/drills under coaching supervision are added to the players' workload. These can include so-called "perfect play drills," wherein players line up as a unit (offense, defense, or special teams) and run through their assignments on a given play against no opponents.
Other Phase Two drills allow for offensive players to line up against offensive players and defensive players against defensive players to simulate having opposition. However, these must be executed at a walk-through pace. No full-speed contact is allowed, nor are any offense-vs-defense drills at this point.
The final four weeks at last begin to resemble competitive football practices. Yet, these are still considered instructional and implementational workouts only. During the 10 organized team activity practices (commonly referred to as OTAs) and three days of mandatory minicamp, the offense and defense can line up against one another for 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and full 11-on-11 team drills, but because players are limited to wearing helmets and no other pads, live contact (i.e., hitting and tackling) remains prohibited.
Apart from the three-day minicamp, workouts in all three phases are voluntary in nature. However, almost every player takes part in the majority of them, provided they're healthy enough to do so, as it proves advantageous both for them as individuals and collectively as a team to gain an understanding of the playbook while cultivating an on-field working relationship with teammates.
Unlike training camp, which traditionally begins in late July, the springtime workouts and practices are closed to the public. Credentialed members of the media are allowed to watch a handful of the OTA sessions (which start May 23 in New England this year and conclude June 17) as well as all three days of minicamp practice in June. Media can also conduct interviews with players and select coaches periodically. Therefore, be sure to monitor patriots.com on a regular basis over the coming weeks for any pictures, videos, and written updates on the 2022 Patriots offseason workout program.
WHAT COMES NEXT
Once this nine-week period concludes, six weeks of relative dormancy across the NFL will follow before training camps begin to open up. Exact dates, times, and other details for those practice sessions will be unveiled as we get closer to them.
Of course, players will continue to remain in playing shape, but will have to do so on their own, as almost no official football business is conducted during this relatively brief summer vacation.
In the meantime, preparations for the 2022 season start with the workouts currently underway at Gillette.