The New England Patriots' offseason program is off to an ominous start.
The Patriots reportedly have forfeited two days of organized team activities as punishment for a violation of the NFL's offseason rules. According to the Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard, the violation involved special teams meetings led by special teams coach Joe Judge in early May that caused players to be at New England's facility longer than the maximum of four hours.
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While losing two OTAs in May isn't the end of the world, it's still a bad look for a Patriots team coming off an 8-9 season marred by uncharacteristic dysfunction. So, what really went down here, and how did New England get caught?
Our Phil Perry provided more detail Thursday on NBC Sports Boston's "Early Edition."
"What I've heard is that there was an NFL (Players Association) representative who was at Gillette Stadium on one of the days during which one of these violations occurred," Perry said.
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"So May 1, May 2, May 4, it was three separate occasions that these workshops occurred and players stayed longer than they were supposed to. And on one of those days, there was a PA rep who was present. And I think that's part of the reason ... why this punishment ends up coming out."
What puzzled Perry about this violation is that teams usually aren't punished for infractions this minor that don't involve extra on-field practice time or excessive contact at practices.
"What I've been told is the PA is not necessarily looking to hammer teams for violations like this," Perry added. "(It's) a short meeting, it's not contact at practice, it's not really about health and safety. This is the kind of thing where, generally speaking, the PA would say something like, 'Hey guys, you stayed too late on Monday.'
"And when you have three separate violations on May 1, May 2 and May 4, I wonder if, because of the repeat nature of this offense, that's what leads to the punishment."
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer also added more color on what the meetings actually entailed, noting they seemed voluntary and relatively informal.
"I just heard that basically this was offered as sort of a voluntary session before you get your day going," Breer said. "So over breakfast, the offensive and defensive players had a chance to meet with Joe Judge and go over a few things special teams-wise."
Nonetheless, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported the meetings were visible on the team's internal schedule, which in the eyes of the NFLPA made them more "mandatory" and led to New England's punishment.
For more insight from Perry and Breer, check out their full discussion with Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran and host Trenni Casey in the YouTube video below.