New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 28: New England Patriots players huddle during training camp at Gillette Stadium on August 28, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Monday marked the official beginning of spring practices for the Patriots, who held their first of 10 OTA sessions. These practices will take place over the course of the next three weeks, leading up to mandatory minicamp in mid-June. After that, there will be about six weeks off before training camp begins in late July.

As the Patriots begin OTAs, it’s important to remember there is a difference between these practices and the ones we’ll see later this summer. Bill Belichick has pointed out in the past that he views these sessions as a “teaching camp,” as opposed to the July workouts which he has described as a “competitive camp.”

These next few weeks are for the entire roster – especially new players – to get on the same page with the coaching staff, as well as each other. “[We’re] just trying to get an opportunity for everyone to learn what to do and then we’ll evaluate it when we get to training camp,” Belichick said of OTAs in 2019. He added that it’s only when the intensity ramps up in training camp that the coaches truly start evaluating players in terms of the final roster.

While that means no positional battles will likely be won or lost over the next month, there’s still information we can take away from these Patriots practice sessions. One of the biggest areas of interest is where players are lining up in team drills, and what positional groups they are working with. Given the depth of NFL experience on the Patriots’ 90-man roster, versatility will be a key as ever when it comes to making roster decisions.

For example, let’s say two players are competing for the backup job at a given position. Player A is the second-best player at that position, but can only play that position. Player B is the third-best player at that position, but can also play another position, projects to a third, and can contribute on special teams. In this scenario (albeit a very simplified one), Player B likely would have the inside track on a roster spot between the two.

With positional versatility a major theme, here’s some things to watch for over the next month as OTAs and minicamp get underway.

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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