fb-pixel Skip to main content
BEN VOLIN | ON FOOTBALL

Strict rules in place for Patriots’ minicamp

You won’t see pads — or numbers — on the players at Patriots minicamp.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The Patriots hit the home stretch of the nine-week offseason program Tuesday when they begin their three-day minicamp.

It’s the only portion of the offseason that is mandatory for players, who are required to either participate in practice or rehab their injuries at the team facility. After minicamp concludes on Thursday afternoon, players and coaches will part ways for nearly six weeks of summer vacation before training camp begins in late July.

What exactly goes on at a mandatory minicamp, and how is it different from other offseason practices? It’s actually all spelled out quite thoroughly in the collective bargaining agreement, which has been in place since the start of the 2011 season. Bill Belichick can modify his practices to include more team drills or individual work, but the general framework of a minicamp practice is the same for all 32 NFL teams.

Advertisement



The rules are as follows:

■   Minicamps are considered part of “Phase III” of the offseason program and similar to the organized team activity practices (which are voluntary). Not permitted during practices are any live contact (blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run) or one-on-one offense vs. defense drills (offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen, bump-and-run receiver vs. cornerback drills, and one-on-one special teams drills). Teams can require players to wear helmets, but no pads are permitted.

■   Minicamps cannot be longer than three days of practice plus one day for physical examinations. The physicals must be done on Monday (with no practice or workouts that day), with practices Tuesday to Thursday and a mandatory off day Friday. Many teams often cancel the Thursday practice as a way to reward players for an offseason of hard work.

■   Teams can actually hold “two-a-days” during minicamps, but the second practice can only be a walk-through. Players can spend a total of 3½ hours on the field per day, including a maximum of 2½ hours in any one session (the clock starts as soon as position coaches begin to coach players on the field).

Advertisement



Teams can only hold 10 hours of activities per day, including taping and treatment but not meal time. All activities must take place between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and players must be given an hour each for lunch and dinner.

■   All injured players must rehab and work out at the team facility unless excused by the team. The Patriots have several players sitting out workouts as they return from injury, including Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), Sebastian Vollmer (shoulder), Chandler Jones (unspecified), Jerod Mayo (knee), Brandon LaFell (foot), Matthew Slater (unspecified), Sealver Siliga (unspecified), and Chris Jones (calf).

■   Teams are required to film all on-field activities from minicamp, and maintain a copy of the films until 30 days after the start of the regular season. The NFL Players Association may view the films if a complaint is filed against a team.

■   If a team is found to have violated any rules, the head coach can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $250,000 for a second violation, while the team can be fined $250,000 for the first violation and $500,000 for the second violation. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to lessen the penalties based on circumstances.

■   Players can be fined as much as $72,920 in 2015 for unexcused absences from minicamp or leaving the team facility early. The amounts change each year, and this year players are fined $12,155 for a first absence, $24,300 for a second absence, and $36,465 for a third absence.

Advertisement



■   Malcolm Butler had better set his alarm clock, because players also can be fined as much as $1,770 for reporting late to a meeting, practice, transportation, curfew, medical appointment, promotional activity, workout, weigh-in, or meal. (An NFLPA spokesman said Monday that the union is still looking into the Patriots’ punishment of Butler during voluntary workouts, but there is no update as of now.)

■   All players get paid based on their service level. Any veteran player is entitled to $1,800 for the week, plus travel expenses and meal per diem ($25 for breakfast, $35 for lunch, $53 for dinner). The team must also provide housing for players coming from out of town.

First-year players (who were in a training camp or on a practice squad last year but not on an active roster) get a prorated portion of $1,000 for the week, plus travel expenses, meal per diem, and housing if needed. Rookies are not compensated for minicamp, other than travel and housing.

■   And unfortunately for New England reporters, nothing in the CBA requires players to wear jersey numbers during practice. The Patriots appear to be the only team in the NFL not to wear jersey numbers during offseason workouts, which the team says is done as a team-building exercise. Of course, it also makes it difficult for reporters to take accurate attendance and follow along during practice.

Advertisement




Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.