Get ready for Year 2 of the Mac Jones era.
The Patriots are hoping to build off last season’s 10-7 performance that saw them take second place in the AFC East and qualify for the playoffs. But they will face long odds after limping to the finish line in 2021 and getting throttled by the Bills in the first round, marking three straight years the team has failed to win a game in the postseason.
Patriots players have filtered back into Foxborough as the team gets set to begin its full training camp this week. Rookies had until July 19 to report to camp, while the veterans had until July 26.
Here is everything you need to know as the Patriots open training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium Wednesday:
Easing into it
The Patriots have announced practices on Wednesday through Saturday, with each session beginning at approximately 9:30 a.m.. Additional times will be updated on the Patriots Training Camp website and on the Patriots and Gillette Stadium apps once confirmed in the days leading into training camp.
Per the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the first three days must be no-contact. The first day will be a conditioning day, with players wearing helmets on the second and third days. Shells will be worn on the fourth and fifth days. The sixth day will be an off day, before full-pad practices, with contact, can begin on the seventh day.
A practice session for season ticket-holders and Foxborough residents will be held inside Gillette Stadium on Friday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m.
How to watch training camp
A few years ago, we put together a guide on how to watch training camp like a pro. Here is the abbreviated version:
▪ Pick a low vantage point for individual drills, and a high one for team drills.
▪ Memorize the roster and jersey numbers cold.
▪ Take notes of the pairings and combinations.
▪ Grade the one-on-one battles, and be descriptive.
▪ Take note of the game situation.
▪ Listen to what the coaches are telling the players.
Top story lines heading into camp
Who’s calling the shots on offense?
With Josh McDaniels now head coach in Las Vegas, the Patriots have a vacancy at offensive coordinator, one that head coach Bill Belichick does not appear to be in a rush to fill.
Finding someone to work with Jones in his second year would seem to be a priority, but perhaps not.
Joe Judge, who returned to the organization earlier in the offseason after he was fired as head coach of the New York Giants, revealed in May that he was working with Jones, and the rest of the offense. Judge’s title is offensive assistant.
Judge, Matt Patricia, and tight ends coach Nick Caley are among the candidates who could assume the play-calling duties, something McDaniels did the last 10 seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
New look at linebacker?
The Patriots released veteran Kyle Van Noy after the 2021 season, while Dont’a Hightower, 32, remains a free agent. The team is hoping Mack Wilson, acquired from the Browns in exchange for Chase Winovich, will benefit from a change of scenery.
Raekwon McMillan, who missed the 2021 season with a torn ACL, is expected back but was placed on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list last week. Also returning from a torn ACL is 2021 fifth-round pick Cameron McGrone.
Veterans Ja’Whaun Bentley. Matthew Judon, Josh Uche, and Ronnie Perkins are back.
Replacing J.C. Jackson in the secondary
The Patriots will have a big hole to fill at cornerback after J.C. Jackson signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Chargers in the offseason.
Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler is back, and could potentially earn a starting spot opposite Jalen Mills. But he figures to have plenty of competition, including 2022 fourth-round pick Jack Jones.
Key NFL dates
Aug. 4: Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Las Vegas Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Aug. 16: Roster cut-down to 85 players
Aug. 23: Roster cut-down to 80 players
Aug. 30: Roster cut-down to 53 players
The Patriots have three preseason games, all against NFC East opponents. Two will be at Gillette Stadium. All three games will be broadcast on WBZ-TV.
Aug. 11 vs. NY Giants, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19 vs. Carolina, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m.
The Patriots will have joint practices with the Panthers Aug. 16-17. They will also have joint practices with the Raiders in Las Vegas on Aug. 23-24 leading up to the final preseason game.
On Sept. 11, for the third year in a row, the Patriots will open the regular season against the Dolphins. This time, the game will be at Miami. After traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in Week 2, the Patriots will host the Ravens in the home opener Sept. 25.
▪ Parking and admission are free. Practices are on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.
▪ The training camp schedule is tentative and subject to change. Fans planning to attend practice should check Patriots.com for daily updates or call the training camp hotline at 508-549-0001.
▪ When the Patriots practice indoors because of inclement weather or poor field conditions, practices will be closed to the public.
▪ There are concessions positioned around the practice fields and the Patriots Fan Zone, as well as exhibits from the Patriots Hall of Fame. There will be appearances by Pat Patriot, Patriots cheerleaders and Patriots alumni.
▪ All fans entering the facility with a view of the practice fields will be screened by metal detectors, and have all bags screened by security personnel. While bags are permitted, fans are encouraged to use clear bags for speed of inspection and entry.
▪ Prohibited items: Animals (except service animals assisting those with disabilities), alcohol, beach balls, bullhorns and air horns, coolers, fireworks or pyrotechnics, helium balloons, illegal drugs or any other illegal substances, laser pens, noisemakers, video cameras, weapons of any kind (including knives), unmanned aircraft systems, remotely controlled model aircraft, selfie sticks, and GoPro cameras. Flags will be allowed, but flagpoles more than 2 feet in length will not be allowed.
▪ From Boston and farther north: Take I-95 South to Exit 9. Follow Route 1 south approximately 3 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the left).
▪ From Cape Cod: Take I-495 north to Exit 14A. Follow Route 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).
▪ From southern Connecticut and Rhode Island: Take I-95 north to I-495 north to Exit 14A. Follow Route 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).
▪ From northern Connecticut, Vermont, and upstate New York: Take I-90 east to I-495 south to Exit 14A. Follow Route 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).