In a bit of a surprising move, the Patriots canceled their final two organized team activities (OTAs) of the summer.
Wednesday was a scheduled off-day for the team, but the Patriots were supposed to hold voluntary OTAs on Thursday and Friday before departing Foxboro until the end of July when training camp begins. Media availability had been scheduled for Thursday’s session.
Speaking at the 2018 Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards earlier Tuesday, New England owner Robert Kraft confirmed that the players would be let off this afternoon.
“Part of that is there are great things that happened last week, having everyone here,” Kraft said. “Yesterday, they had a team-building activity that was really good.”
The Patriots reportedly visited Fenway Park yesterday, where they played cornhole and other lawn games as part of a team-building exercise. Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, each of whom showed up to the team’s mandatory minicamp at Gillette Stadium last week, were reportedly no-shows.
“I’m excited about this team and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this year,” Kraft said. “I understand sometimes people in the media have to work things up a little bit, but I’ll just tell you that I and my family are very excited about the upcoming season.”
Gronkowski spoke prior to the Belmont Stakes last weekend in New York, where a horse named after him – “Gronkowski” – finished in second to Justify, who won horse racing’s triple crown. He was the subject of trade rumors that surfaced late last week, which he brushed off as “fake news.” Gronkowski is reportedly seeking a new contract from New England; his current deal is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season.
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While both Brady and Gronkowski were present for mandatory mini-camp last week, the Patriots were still far from having a drama-free week after wide receiver Julian Edelman was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season – pending appeal – for testing positive for a banned substance.
Edelman is working his way back from an ACL injury that cost him all of the 2017 season. The trio of Brady, Gronkowski and Edelman haven’t played in a regular season game together since Week 11 of the 2016 season.