Come Monday, it’s back to work for Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Welcome back to football.
Starting Monday, the Patriots begin their offseason program, which means that just about the entire roster will be back in Foxboro starting prep work on the 2016 season. Every workout is considered “voluntary” — other than June’s mandatory minicamp, which runs June 7-9 — but unless you have an excuse (say, trying to land a spot on the U.S. Olympic rugby team, for example) attendance is fundamentally mandated. Of course, the players who have workout bonuses as part of their contracts also have some financial incentive to make an appearance as well, so there’s that.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that a good start to the offseason program this month can set the tone for a good year and vice versa. In the past, there have been players who have struggled out of the gate throughout the spring workout sessions (for health or other reasons) and have found themselves trying to play catch-up the rest of the way. New players and those coming off an offseason dealing with injury issues will certainly bear watching as the workouts stretch through the spring.
The first phase of the program has two weeks of strength and conditioning work as well as rehabilitation workouts. The work is restricted to conditioning — no actual football activity is allowed, and no positional coaches are allowed on the field with players. Instead, strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera will lead the workouts.
The second portion starts the first week of May, and include three weeks of on-field workouts that can include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice on a “separates” basis under the eye of the coaching staff. This mean there can be no contact and no offense vs. defense drills.
The final phase begins in late May, where a series of 10 organized team activities (OTAs) are held, and are set to run through June 16. These sessions are non-contact, but can include offense vs. defense drills with a full coaching staff.
In all, the offseason program wraps up in mid-June, and will mark the jumping off point for the franchise until the start of training camp, which is expected to open the last week of July.