FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots visited the Miami Dolphins in the 2011 season opener, the temperature at kickoff was 82 degrees with 73 percent humidity. And that was a night game (38-24 Patriots win).
In 2012, the Dolphins' home opener was a 1 p.m. ET start and the temperature was 80 degrees with 75 percent humidity (35-13 win over the Raiders).
Last year, the Dolphins' home opener was a 4:05 p.m. ET start with the kickoff temperature at 89 degrees with 59 percent humidity (27-23 win over the Falcons).
So with news coming Wednesday that the Patriots will open the 2014 season with a trip to Miami, safety Devin McCourty had an innovative, budget-busting thought for the team to prepare for the challenge.
"Maybe we could build a big sauna and try to have a practice in there, just to get ready for the heat," McCourty joked Thursday after participating in the team’s voluntary offseason program. "It's always a challenge any time we go down there, whether it's the beginning of the season or we go down in December, to try to get your body ready for that heat. It's just tough because you really can't get it here in New England."
McCourty recalled the 2011 opener against the Dolphins, which was played on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."
"That was tough opening the season there with the humidity," he said, before adding: "Guys will work hard and I don't really worry about weather because I know guys do any and everything, and our nutritionists make sure we're ready to go."
Like others, McCourty watched the release of the NFL schedule on Wednesday night with interest.
"It's always fun, just to see the different guys around the league, talk a little trash and getting ready to go. When the preseason schedule was released, I texted [Panthers receiver] Tiquan [Underwood] to get ready for Week 3," McCourty said of his former Rutgers and Patriots teammate.