FOXBOROUGH – Devin McCourty knows that the Patriots’ season-opener is going to be hot – literally.
The Patriots will be fighting two opponents when they open their 2014 regular season with a 1 p.m. kickoff at division rival Miami on Sept. 7 – the Dolphins and the heat. Last year on the same date, temperatures reached 89 degrees (plus humidity), and the heat is the Dolphins’ best home-field advantage, with players often hooked up to IV bags by the end of the games to help stay hydrated.
Even when the Patriots played a Monday night game at Miami in Week 1 of 2011, the temperature was still 83 degrees at kickoff. Don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick figures out a way to turn up the heat during training camp this August to help his players acclimate and prepare for the scorching Miami weather.
“Maybe we could build a big sauna and try to have a practice in there just to get ready,” McCourty quipped Thursday after a workout at Gillette Stadium. “It’s always a challenge any time we go down there, whether it’s the beginning of the season or we go down in December. Trying to get your body ready for that heat is just tough. You really can’t get it up here in New England. (But) I know guys will do whatever they have to do just to be ready to go. Our nutritionist will make sure we’re ready to go.”
McCourty said he was excited to see the regular season schedule released last night, just like he was two weeks ago when the preseason schedule was announced. At the time, he sent a text to former teammate Tiquan Underwood, now a receiver with the Panthers, “and told him to get ready for Week 3” when the Patriots and Panthers play a preseason game at Gillette.
“It’s always fun. You know guys around the league, talk a little trash and, ‘Hey, get ready to go,’” McCourty said.
McCourty said the Patriots’ offseason workout program, which began on Monday, is going well. Players are only allowed to work out with the training staff for the first two weeks, and while McCourty said attendance has been strong and he has enjoyed getting to know new teammates Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, he’s not sure if the team has 100 percent participation for the voluntary workouts.
“It’s a great experience now, being back with all the guys,” he said. “In the secondary, the bonding begins now. Just working together is going to be exciting, but I think the biggest thing we understand right now is we have a lot of work to do.”