Pats an­nounce re­duced ca­pac­ity home games

Along with other new sta­dium pro­to­cols

Sentinel & Enterprise - - SPORTS - By Andrew Cal­la­han

Fall­ing in line with a grow­ing num­ber of NFL teams, the Pa­tri­ots an­nounced Tues­day they will host re­duced-ca­pac­ity crowds at home games this sea­son, pend­ing state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment ap­proval.

The team is aim­ing for 20% ca­pac­ity, and all fans must wear masks and dis­tance them­selves from one an­other upon en­ter­ing the gates to Gil­lette Sta­dium.

From the team’s re­lease: “Tick­eted par­ties will be asked to main­tain phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing of at least six feet from other par­ties, tick­ets will be ar­ranged in blocks of 10 seats or less, and the first eight rows of sta­dium seats will not be used.”

Other fran­chises have pub­lished sim­i­lar pro­to­cols, while also an­nounc­ing they will wel­come crowds in the neigh­bor­hood of 14,000 to 18,000 fans. The Pats will host just over 13,000.

The first reg­u­lar-sea­son game at Gil­lette Sta­dium is set for Sept. 13. The team’s two-game pre­sea­son slate has yet to be fi­nal­ized, though it’s ex­pected the Pa­tri­ots will host at least one game if a pre­sea­son is held.

Last month, the Pats an­nounced fan park­ing in the lots sur­round­ing Gil­lette Sta­dium will be free, and all tick­ets for the 2020 sea­son must be mo­bile. Sea­son ticket hold­ers and mem­bers of the Pa­tri­ots

Put­nam Club will have the first chance to buy in­di­vid­ual game tick­ets, if fans are per­mit­ted to at­tend games. The re­main­ing tick­ets will be made avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic.

Ad­di­tion­ally, sea­son ticket hold­ers have been al­lowed to opt out of their ticket pack­age this fall without los­ing them per­ma­nently, pro­vided they can demon­strate they are high-risk of COVID-19.

New­ton: Fol­low­ing Brady the “ele­phant in the room”

In a roundtable con­ver­sa­tion posted to the You

Tube page of Browns wide re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham Jr., new Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Cam New­ton called suc­ceed­ing Tom Brady “the ele­phant in the room.”

New­ton, who did not call Brady by name, is widely ex­pected to fol­low him as the team’s next starter this up­com­ing sea­son. De­spite suf­fer­ing a re­cent string of sea­son-end­ing in­juries, ex­pec­ta­tions are high for the for­mer league MVP. In the same dis­cus­sion, which in­cluded Beck­ham, Fal­cons run­ning back Todd Gur­ley and for­mer Giants wide­out Vic­tor Cruz, New­ton added fuel to that fire by hyp­ing him­self and the sit­u­a­tion he’s landed in.

“You know who (you’re) com­ing af­ter? I’m like, yeah, great. What he was, what he is, is great, needs no even talk­ing about it,” New­ton said. “But one thing about it, though: coach (Josh) McDaniels, you’re able to call some stuff that you ain’t ever been able to call now.

“You’re get­ting a dog. You’re get­ting one of these ticked off dogs, too. And I’m look­ing at the sched­ule, and I’m like, ‘Who we play­ing? That team passed on me. OK, that team passed on me. They could’ve came and got me.'”

New­ton’s deal with the Pa­tri­ots was fi­nally an­nounced by the team last week. Since agree­ing to terms on a 1-year con­tract with a $1.05 mil­lion base salary and max­i­mum value of $7.5 mil­lion, New­ton has worked out with Pats wide­outs and rookie tight end Devin Asi­asi. In train­ing camp. he will com­pete against se­cond-year quar­ter­back Jar­rett Stid­ham and jour­ney­man Brian Hoyer for the start­ing job.

Dead­line day ar­rives

The Pats and left guard Joe Thuney have un­til 4 p.m. to­day to strike a longterm ex­ten­sion or Thuney will play out the 2020 sea­son un­der the fran­chise tag.

With the 1-year tag, Thuney will make $14.78 mil­lion in guar­an­teed money. The Pa­tri­ots ap­plied the tag at the out­set of free agency in midMarch. Thuney, who will turn 28 this sea­son, signed it days later.

The like­li­hood of the two sides reach­ing a long-term deal seemed low at the start of the off­sea­son and may have only wors­ened due to the sud­den fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty the NFL is fac­ing due to the pan­demic. How­ever, the Chiefs and tagged de­fen­sive tackle Chris Jones agreed to an ex­ten­sion Tues­day, hours be­fore the Browns and Pro Bowl de­fen­sive end Myles Garrett did the same.

The last con­tract to re­set the of­fen­sive guard mar­ket was signed in 2018 by the Jaguars’ Andrew Nor­well. He re­ceived a 5-year deal worth up to $66.5 mil­lion with $30 mil­lion guar­an­teed.

STU­ART CAHILL / BOSTON HER­ALD

The Pa­tri­ots an­nounced Tues­day they will host re­duced-ca­pac­ity crowds at home games this sea­son.

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