The early days of training camp were a relatively unspectacular affair for the New England Patriots. While there were some big plays on both sides of the ball, the first five practices didn’t yet taste like ‘real’ football as a key element was missing – one that will be added to the equation on Tuesday: full leggings.
After completing the first five practices with shells or without protective gear other than helmets, the Patriots will be putting on full gear for the first time all summer. Needless to say, there is a lot of excitement at Gillette Stadium.
Speaking to reporters after Monday’s session – an outfit in hulls and helmets – the players said they would look forward to what awaits them.
“Just more contact,” said wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. âThe DB can get more of us. Linebackers may make a thud. O linemen, D linemen can certainly hit each other; double teams and so on. Just more of a football feel with leg warmers.
âFor a running back, that’s what we live for. With the pads, it should be fun, âadded rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
The other side of the ball is also anxiously awaiting the change, as defensive back Jalen Mills pointed out.
âSlow down those receptors a bit. Learn how to touch them a bit, âMills said when asked to share his thoughts on the outfit change. âWe can actually see what our team has. It’s a little noisier between the O-line and the D-line, linebackers, running backs, cornerbacks and receivers.
When the Patriots opened their camp last Wednesday, they wore helmets and shorts. The outfit remained the same for the second session the next day, before the team put on shells for the next three practices, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Even with the added protection, no live tackles were allowed under the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement signed last spring.
That will all change on Tuesday, and players are happy about it despite (or because of?) The added intensity.
“That’s what it’s about. A football player, a linebacker, we feed on contact and I’m ready for tomorrow,” linebacker Raekwon McMillan said Monday.
“I haven’t hit anyone for a year and a half so I’m just ready to hit,” added running back Brandon Bolden, who has pulled out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. âI arrive expecting to be touched, and everyone expects to be touched tomorrow. It’s gonna be fun. I really believe it will be a great day tomorrow.
Players putting on full pads also mean the Patriots are taking a new step in their preparation process. More concepts can be implemented as the assessment process begins in its entirety, especially where physical positions along the line of scrimmage are concerned.
“It’s hard to gauge the offensive and defensive lines without any kind of contact, which is basically the way it has been,” head coach Bill Belichick said on a media conference call Monday morning. . âSo we’ll see how it goes for each of them when we get a contact and a block and the feet and the blocks and the passes and the pass protection and so on. We will see.”
Belichick also mentioned that this week will give his team a chance to improve their fundamentals and get to know the game again.
“It’s a good opportunity for us this week to really work on our fundamentals and get used to playing in more real football-like conditions,” Belichick said. âLots of work to do here. We just keep building each day by adding a little something new. We have to add, be ready to go by the end of the week, hopefully, and then that will give us a few days next week to start preparing for Washington.
The Patriots will wear full towels on Tuesday and are also expected to wear a similar outfit for at least two of the following three sessions. Real football is just around the corner, and the training grounds behind Gillette Stadium are finally proof.