For the first time since their Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 4, the New England Patriots will take the field as a team Monday as they begin organized team activities.
What exactly are organized team activities — or OTAs, as they’re more commonly known? They’re essentially a scaled-down version of training camp, which does not kick off until late July.
OTAs feature the standard 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, plus individual positional work, but full pads and full contact are prohibited. Players wear helmets, shorts and practice jerseys, making these practices — which are not open to the public — more beneficial for quarterbacks, pass catchers and defensive backs than they are for players in the trenches.
Also, unlike training camp or mandatory minicamp (New England’s is June 5-7 this year), OTAs are voluntary for players. Most do attend, but there are a few players around the NFL each spring who opt to do their own thing until attendance becomes compulsory.
Two very high-profile Patriots could take that path this year. On that note, let’s take a look at the biggest storylines surrounding the Patriots entering Phase 3 of their offseason program.
1. Will Brady and Gronk show up? Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski — first-team All-Pros in 2017 and arguably the best players in the league at their respective positions — have yet to report to Gillette Stadium for offseason workouts. Both chose to skip Phases 1 and 2 of the program, which focus mostly on conditioning and technique, and neither has said or done anything to suggest he’ll be back on the practice field Monday.