Patriots rookies are scheduled to arrive in town today as the team's offseason program shifts to a new phase.
This will mark the first time that veterans and rookies are in the locker room at the same time, and it will be a crowded room with 90 players on the roster (78 under contract). The team annually sets up blue temporary lockers in the middle of the locker room for most of the rookies.
The Patriots previously held a rookie minicamp April 30-May 1, and it had a Football 101 feel to it. A big part of that minicamp seemed to be giving the rookies a foundation on which to build in the team's system, since they are behind players already on the roster.
Now, Patriots coaches figure to be interested in seeing how prepared the rookies are upon their return, and how much time they spent digesting what they were taught at rookie minicamp.
Furthermore, in an offseason where better team chemistry has been stressed, this will be one of the first times that the entire team is together (not all veterans are in town for voluntary workouts, but one veteran estimated 90 percent attendance). Although it's early, sometimes leaders can start to emerge in situations like these.
The Patriots' first official organized team activities are scheduled for next week.