FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s the day New England Patriots fans have been waiting for — the start of training camp.
For the first time since 2019, practice is back open to the public after being shut down last year due to COVID-19 protocols. The last time fans were able to cheer on players on day 1 of training camp was when Tom Bady was still the team’s quarterback, and they were the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
The Patriots opened training camp Wednesday with many new players with the hope of returning to the playoffs. Last year, the Patriots missed the playoffs and did not win the AFC East for the first time since 2008 after finishing third in the division with a 7-9 record.
Gates opened to fans around 8:30 a.m. and practice started around 9:45 a.m.
Players reported to camp on Tuesday, but there wasn’t any on-field activity. Coach Bill Belichick said it won’t be for another few days that players will be in pads, with players at different levels of rehabilitation and will be practicing accordingly on Wednesday.
“They’re all anxious to get back on the field and we’ll follow the proper procedures and protocols as it pertains to them individually,” Belichick noted.
The Boston Globe reported second-year tight end Devin Asiasi tested positive for COVID-19. He is vaccinated but will be out until he has two negative tests, 24 hours apart.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy and offensive tackle Trent Brown will be starting camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Belichick has said in the past that Cam Newton is the team’s quarterback, but when asked if there will be an open competition for the starting QB job, he said everyone starts the season with a clean slate.
“Every one of us has to go out and establish our level of performance whatever our role or capacity is. It’s a new season. We’ve done some things in the spring but this is the start of football season,” he said.
Just like in past years, it’s free to park and watch the team practice. Face masks are encouraged for unvaccinated fans and there will be no autograph signing.
The Patriots will also be hosting a mobile vaccination clinic at Gillette running Thursday through Saturday. They will be offering the first dose of Pfizer, along with a $25 gift card to the concession stands and free admission to the Patriots Hall of Fame.