FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots players received a surprise when they arrived for Monday’s voluntary organized team activity. The buses lined up in front of Gillette Stadium provided the first hint that something was different.
Soon enough, led by a police escort, those taking part in the voluntary OTA were off to Fenway Park for a few hours of unplugged team bonding and team building.
With Bill Belichick now in his 19th year as head coach and always looking for ways to hopefully bring a new team together, a beautiful Monday at Fenway Park was a sharp curveball for him compared to the more traditional walk to the movies at Patriot Place. With the Red Sox on the road for a Monday game at Baltimore, the Patriots had Fenway all to themselves on a sunny 70-degree gem of a New England day.
“We have a lot of new players on the team,” Belichick said three weeks ago at the start of OTAs. “Some we got [in the draft] and other guys have come to us at different points in time during the offseason, but good to kind of get everybody [together].”
Consider that of the 90 players on the roster, 28 weren’t with the team last season.
First-round draft choice Isaiah Wynn, the offensive lineman from St. Petersburg, Florida, by way of the University of Georgia, is one of those newcomers. Before he was selected by the Patriots, he had never visited the New England region. So Monday was a chance to not only come together with new teammates but also check out a legendary ballpark in a city he is just discovering, one he hopes will be his long-term home.
Belichick repeated multiple times in recent weeks that the goal of OTAs was to prepare everyone to be ready for training camp. Most of the work has come on the field, but as Monday’s trip to Fenway highlights, there’s more than just football when it comes to efforts to bring a new team together before the start of training camp in late July.