FOXBOROUGH — Patriots players said Tuesday the team held a meeting to review the NFL’s gambling policy, as multiple violations across the league have led to suspensions.
“Bill Belichick actually talks about that in very large detail,” defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. said. “He always tells us what we need to do, what we need to stay away from. We had a whole meeting about just that.”
In March 2022, the league suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley for betting on NFL games in the 2021 season. Ridley, who was reinstated earlier this year, later said he made “a stupid mistake” in “a dark moment” while dealing with anxiety and depression.
Then, in April this year, the league suspended five players — three indefinitely and two for six games — for betting on NFL games and placing bets from inside a team facility. The league is also investigating two additional players for possible violations.
Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams, one of the players suspended for six games, said he was unaware of the league’s policy and blindsided by the punishment.
“It hit me out of the blue,” Williams said. “It hit a couple other players around the league and on my team out of the blue.”
According to the NFL, all personnel are “prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third party, on any NFL game, practice, or other event.”
Players are allowed to bet on other professional, college, international, and Olympic sports, though gambling is not permitted in team facilities or while traveling on club or league business.
As more states legalize sports betting, the Patriots sound well versed in the league’s policy.
“Yeah, I know the rules,” safety Kyle Dugger said. “We went over it.”
And at least one player doesn’t seem at all concerned.
“I’m not a gambling person,” running back Rhamondre Stevenson said, “so I stay away from the gambling.”
Without the safety net
Dugger faces a new challenge entering the 2023 season: playing without Devin McCourty for the first time in his four-year NFL career.
McCourty’s departure thrusts Dugger into a crucial position for a defense that had 30 takeaways last season. Asked Tuesday if he’s ready for the upcoming season, Dugger reiterated the importance of his role: “I don’t have time not to be.”
Last season, Dugger ranked second on the team in tackles (78), returned two interceptions for touchdowns, and recovered a fumble for a touchdown. He, Adrian Phillips, Jalen Mills, and Jabrill Peppers will work together to account for McCourty’s absence. As several players and coaches have noted, that void cannot be filled by just one player.
Dugger, drafted in the second round in 2020, is also entering the final year of his rookie deal. But he does not seem preoccupied by his contract status.
“That’s not on my mind,” Dugger said. “That’s the business part. I’m on the field. I’m trying to handle business on the field and let that be that. I definitely enjoy playing for this organization.”
Old friends on hand
A number of former Patriots players and coaches attended Tuesday’s practice. Ernie Adams, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Chung, Aaron Dobson, and Ivan Fears were all on-site . . . Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster did not practice Tuesday, a day after visiting the White House to celebrate his Super Bowl championship with his former team, the Chiefs. (Belichick said Smith-Schuster was in the building.) Among those also absent were wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton; offensive linemen Trent Brown, Michael Onwenu, and Conor McDermott; defensive tackle Lawrence Guy; linebacker Matthew Judon; and kicker Nick Folk. Mandatory minicamp begins Monday . . . A brief skirmish broke out between guard Cole Strange and linebacker Anfernee Jennings during the 11-on-11 period. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore also got involved, before getting pulled away. Strange and Barmore then watched the rest of practice from the sideline . . . Tight end Mike Gesicki, who attended one of Taylor Swift’s concerts at Gillette Stadium last month, revealed his favorite song of the night was “Enchanted.” Said Gesicki, “That’s my go-to.”
(Globe correspondent Varun Shankar contributed to this report.)