FOXBORO -- The days can start to run together within the confines of Gillette Stadium, especially now, with no games circled on the calendar for months. For the players, it's time to work out (or rehab), rinse and repeat.
"What is today?" Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo asked reporters, his t-shirt still soaked with sweat from Thursday's training session. "It's Groundhog Day to us."
With Organized Team Activities still about a week-and-a-half away and mandatory minicamp set to take place from June 11-13, Patriots players have the option of working out at the team's facilities.
Mayo met with members of the media on Thursday and was proud to report that many of his teammates were in the building.
"It's been good," said Mayo, a Patriots captain. "Guys have been coming in and out, really working hard, all the way from the top to the bottom. On both sides of the ball, guys have been around whether it's rehab or whether it's working out."
Though Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran wrote earlier this week that fellow linebacker Brandon Spikes has been scarce at the team's facility, Mayo has been encouraged by the showing.
"Guys have been here, it's like we didn't even miss a beat," he said. "I think guys took off a couple weeks and then they were right back here working out. We have a great group of coaches, great strength staff, great training staff so guys really don't go different places."
Under the new CBA, offseason activities have been cut down a bit, making this time of year -- though not mandatory -- more vital to the team-building process.
"It's very important, especially now since the offseason's a little bit shorter," Mayo said. "We used to come in in March and now we come in in April. Guys have really taken to getting better, especially the young guys. The older guys pretty much know their bodies, but the young guys have really come in and tried to learn as much as they can."
It's a bit of a herky-jerky build up to the season. After minicamp comes training camp, but that doesn't get going until the end of July.
Mayo said he's satisfied with the schedule, though. He lives in the area now so for him and many of his teammates, that perceived time off gets used to work out and prepare. It doesn't feel like they're starting and stopping, though to the rest of the world it may feel like bumper-to-bumper traffic on the road to Week 1.
"I look at this as my profession," Mayo said. "I'm always trying to get better. I don't want there to be rules in place where your strength coach can't work with you or anything like that. I like to work. I like to try to get better and a lot of guys around here like to do that. If it was longer, shorter, I don't think guys would really -- I don't think it would be that big of a difference on this team. I can only speak about this team. Guys like to get in here."
Mayo specified that he's in the group of players who are working out more than rehabbing. Though he dealt with an elbow injury for much of the season, according to him, he's healthy.
"I feel good, I feel very blessed" he said. "No injuries. I feel pretty good."