FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WWLP) – Five months after their Super Bowl win, the New England Patriots have reported to training camp. Thursday was the first time fans got to see the Patriots on the field since Super Bowl LI which ended with one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
It was standing room only as Super Bowl champs took to the field. Julian Edleman said this was the most fans he’s ever seen at a training camp, but he also said they have a lot of work to do during camp.
“At the start of training camp you make mistakes,” Edelman said. “You just want to go out there and learn from then to continually improve, to make your game the best it can be going into the regular season, constant improvements,” he explained. “Expectations are expectations. You always have to manage those because you get your hopes up you get your feelings hurt.”
But the fans were still in the mood to celebrate. The sight of super bowl MVP Tom Brady running onto the field had the crowd screaming his name.
It was also the first time fans got a chance to see Rob Gronkowski since last November after he was hurt.
Gronkowski missed the last few games of the season and the Super Bowls after undergoing back surgery for a herniated disc in his spine last December. But Head Coach Bill Belichick said Gronkowski was given a clean bill of health heading into training camp.
When asked about how he’s feeling heading into the 2017 season, Gronkowski said “I’ve been looking forward to it for awhile now. I’ve been looking forward to just get back to football. I’ve definitely had a longer vacation than a lot of the guys, so I would say I’m probably the most eager to get going.”
Gronkowski’s excitement showed on the field. In addition to drills and plays he was practicing his best touchdown dance as well.
The Patriots went into training camp ranked as the number one team in the NFL and there are some big expectations going into the 2017 season.
Coach Belichick said he’s had enough of the celebrations and it’s time to focus on the season ahead, a sentiment echoed by running back James White.
White told 22News the team can’t get ahead of themselves and they have to focus on the task ahead.
“We’re just focused on Day one, and tomorrow is day two,” White explained. “Trying to get better as a team, competing against each other now, and making each other better.”
While most of the Patriots’ returning roster are starting the season healthy, two players, Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch, are on the physically unable to perform list.
The official start of the season is now less than two months away. Their first game of the regular season will be against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 7. That’s when fans will have a chance to see the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Another notable game this season will be on October 22, when the Patriots take on their Super Bowl LI rivals the Atlanta Falcons.
The Patriots will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first preseason game on August 10th. That game and all of the preseason games will air on 22News.