COLORADO SPRINGS -- No one is questioning what the primary focus is for the New England Patriots during their week at the Air Force Academy: It's to prepare for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico.
But with this stay comes a unique opportunity.
Take, for example, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who has a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering.
"I might have an eye to the sky if I see a jet flying by," Patricia joked Tuesday morning. "That might be pretty cool for me. I love planes. That's one of my passions."
In addition, those with the team will have the option to visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, which is the flagship training center for the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Olympic Training Center programs. USA Swimming and USA Shooting have their national headquarters in the complex.
While Bill Belichick is primarily their football coach, Patriots players often talk about how he is also professor-like in educating them on various topics. One recent example was his talk on the meaning of Veterans Day. This week, Belichick shared his view that the team has a "tremendous opportunity" based on the environment in which it is working.
With that and the possibility of strengthening overall camaraderie, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels sees the benefits as well. "I think these weeks, it's a great opportunity to be around each other more than we would normally be around each other," he said. "You're eating your meals together, you're seeing each other in the hotel, you travel to and from practice together, and any of the guys that take the opportunity to do something [together] on their off day. These have always been great experiences for us."
The last time the Patriots did this was 2014 in San Diego during the week between back-to-back road games against the Packers and Chargers.
"You remember them fondly; it's a change of your routine. We're so routine-oriented in what we do and where we do it, so this is kind of a different feel when you're not in your home base, your office or your normal squad room," McDaniels said. "A lot of good has come out of these trips in the past."