After missing out on the playoffs this past season, the Patriots have had more time to spend as they please in the offseason. Organized team activities typically start in May, although their status is uncertain because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the meantime, we’ll be checking in regularly to see how players have stayed busy on and off the field.
When punter Jake Bailey scheduled his latest golf lesson, instructor Adam Porzak told him that if he arrived a half-hour early, the extra 30 minutes would be on the house.
That sounded like a deal to Bailey, who arrived bright and early Thursday morning at San Diego’s Bernardo Heights Country Club.
“He came for a couple of hours last week,” Porzak said via telephone. “He’s already in for a couple of hours this week.”
Coming off an All-Pro season in which he recorded the league’s best net punting average (45.6 yards), Bailey decided to make serious strides in a new hobby this offseason. He told Porzak, one of the pros at Porzak Golf, that he’s approaching these next few months as if he were trying to become a professional golfer.
Bailey, of course, is still prioritizing his punting, working out at a nearby high school. But, much like Celtics forward Jayson Tatum when the NBA was shut down, he wants to play as much golf as he can.
Things are off to a good start.
“If you’re comparing him to most, he’s very advanced,” Porzak said.
According to Porzak, Bailey has explosive power, hitting the ball as far as some of his clients on the PGA Tour.
“What’s impressive with him is his ability to take instruction,” said Porzak. “You see the way he processes things, and he just absolutely loves to dissect it and really get down to every little bit of the golf swing.”
Porzak also noted that Bailey is able to process information at a much more rapid rate than a typical student, which helps him put the swing together faster. His ability to understand footwork and precise movements translate, too.
“He approaches the lessons with an intensity that your average person simply would not,” Porzak said. “When I get really specific and I talk about, ‘Hey, listen, in your backswing, you’re supposed to load your weight into the inside of your back right heel,’ the average person, it would take a second to figure that out. For him, it’s like, ‘Oh,’ and right away, he’s got it.”
In addition to their lessons, Porzak plans to set up Bailey with some worthy opponents, including Seahawks kicker and fellow San Diegan Jason Myers, a friend of Porzak’s. Myers certainly seems to have developed a strong reputation.
“First thing Jake told me when he was coming to take lessons with me was, ‘Dude, I’m just trying to get where Jason’s at,’ ” said Porzak.
Five Patriots were among those to participate in the NFL Players Association’s third “#AthleteAnd” workshop Tuesday.
Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, special teamer Cody Davis, safety Kyle Dugger, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and defensive end Chase Winovich all took part in the virtual event, which consisted of panels on how pro athletes can best leverage the opportunities available to them during their careers.
“The game provides so many opportunities to access places you might not have had access to had you not played,” said Saints linebacker Demario Davis, one of the featured speakers.
“Eventually, those doors are going to close. But, as you’re inside those doors, what you can do is create relationships. It’s very easy to create those relationships because people are very easily impressed with you if you know anything about anything. What you do is you get your own key, so when those doors close, you’ll be able to walk right back in.”
Other speakers included WNBA player Nneka Ogwumike, softball star-turned-ESPN-baseball-analyst Jessica Mendoza, and Don Davis, who played four seasons with the Patriots and also briefly served as the team’s chaplain.
Because of the virtual setting, we didn’t hear much from the attending Patriots. (Dugger and Davis occasionally chimed in via the session’s chatbox.)
Davis, who played 64.5 percent of New England’s special teams snaps last season (third on the team behind Justin Bethel and Matthew Slater), will hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Both Cannon and Hightower opted out of the season because of pandemic concerns, and have not yet said whether they plan to return next season. Teammate Devin McCourty, though, said earlier this month that he expects all eight of the team’s opt-outs to be back.
A tip of the hat
Quarterback Cam Newton’s first destination of the offseason was Los Angeles.
He wanted to link up with hatmaker Alberto Hernandez, whom you may remember as the man responsible for sending Newton at least one custom hat every week since they first met in 2015.
Together, the pair designed a trio of hats for Hernandez’s label Meshika. The limited-edition collection, in celebration of Black History Month, honors three civil rights activists: Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Harriett Tubman. Each hat features a feather along with a corresponding phrase, such as “Not Today” for Parks and “Follow Me” for Tubman.
“We wanted to give people something where they can feel pride,” Newton said in a YouTube video.
In the video, Newton expressed his interest in fashion and called shopping one of his “stress diffusers.” This year, he plans on thrifting and purchasing more vintage items, rather than spending his money on designer pieces.
Newton, one of several Patriots set to become unrestricted free agents when the league year begins March 17, did not comment on his contract status. The Patriots have not ruled out a second go-around with Newton, though they certainly will consider other options via trade, free agency, and the draft.
In the meantime, Newton probably will be spending time with his children, working out, indulging his passion for fashion, and meditating — a new hobby.
“This past year has been a trying time for me in many different ways,” Newton said. “I’ve relied on the source of meditation to put me at ease.”
Dogs and ducks
Center David Andrews and his wife Mackenzie are expecting their first child, a baby boy due at the end of July.
The couple used a cake from Rhode Island dog bakery Jack’s Snacks as part of their gender reveal, having their German shepherds enjoy the treat until it revealed pink or blue frosting.
This past year marked the first season in Andrews’s career that the Patriots didn’t advance to the playoffs, so he took advantage of the free time in January to go duck hunting. By the end of the month, he was already working out at Edge Performance Systems, a strength and conditioning facility in Foxborough.
Joining Andrews — in masks — were Chargers defensive end (and Xaverian alum) Joe Gaziano, Falcons guard (and Boston College alum) Chris Lindstrom, and Canadian football linebacker (and UMass alum) Jovan Santos-Knox.
Andrews, who is also set to become an unrestricted free agent, has said he would love to stay in New England, his home since entering the league undrafted in 2015.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.