New England Patriots

Kyle Dugger #35 of the New England Patriots warms up before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In professional football, the time a team spends together off the field can be just as impactful as the time they spend together on it. Chemistry can be key in the NFL, and we’ve heard countless stories of veterans helping young players prepare for the pro game.

For the Patriots’ 2020 rookies, they didn’t get that experience – at least not in full. They were drafted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and throughout the season the league had tight restrictions on players gathering in the locker room and elsewhere.

Those restrictions lessened at the start of the 2021 off-season, opening up more opportunities during team workouts. Patriots players took advantage of the added flexibility.

“Just being able to be around the guys more, having that first season under my belt and kind of getting a feel for the guys in the building and now going into this off-season, I’ve been [able] to build a relationship with a lot of the guys on a different level, outside of the football field, which is just great,” linebacker Josh Uche told reporters on Tuesday. Uche was a member of the Patriots’ 2020 draft class, and is preparing for his second season in the NFL.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at

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