Patriots

Why shared practices work for Patriots

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Why shared practices work for Patriots

Wondering why the Patriots have opted to share the training camp practice field with the Saints and Buccaneers this offseason?

Bill Belichick loves doing it.

After a day spent practicing with New Orleans back in August of 2010, Belichick said, "I thought yesterdays practice was probably one of the most productive practices I think Ive been a part of in my career."

Those sessions marked the third time that the Patriots have paired up with an NFC team since Belichick's been with the Patriots.

The first time the Pats shared a practice was in 2001 with the Giants. New England also worked out with the Falcons in Flowery Branch and hosted the Saints.

There were no shared practices last year, likely thanks to the compressed preseason caused by the lockout.

The Saints will be at Foxboro on August 7 and 8 in advance of the August 9 preseason game. The Patriots will work with Tampa on the 22nd and 23rd before playing at Tampa on the 24th.

One reason these practices benefit the Patriots so much is they are an established program. There isn't a lot of orientation and installation that needs to be done on either side of the ball. Offensively, the quarterback is a veteran, the offensive line is made up of returning players, the skill players have all played in Josh McDaniels' system. The same goes for the defense.

This year, the Saints and Bucs stand to benefit quite a bit from working against the Patriots. The Buccaneers are under a new head coach, Greg Schiano, and working with the Patriots will allow them to see the tempo and attitude of a team that Schiano will no doubt try to build his team in a similar way.

The Saints, with all their offseason travails, will benefit from getting outside of their own heads and having interim head coach Joe Vitt get his feet wet leading a team against another, even if its just in practices.

Belichick, who's developed close relationships with both Saints coach Sean Payton and Schiano, will happily help those teams out for friendship and what his team gets in return. Belichick couldn't have been more effusive in 2010.

"We saw a lot of things from the Saints that we havent seen working against ourselves. ...They do a lot of things well, so there were a lot of things that we were able to evaluate and also adjust to. We can walk through them, we can talk through them, but its different when a good team does them and hurts you with them and you have to make those changes," said Belichick. "(There's) no better preparation for a game than working against the team youre going to play. Weve seen a lot in the two practices yesterday. Well see a lot more today. Its been a great learning experience for our football team, not just the players but our staff as well."

It certainly seems to help that there's a friendly relationship and respect between the coaches. If the tenor is competitive and mutually beneficial but not bitter, it will work.

"Its been so easy to work with them. Its been so easy. Do you want to do this? Yeah, we were thinking the same thing. Do you want to do that? Yeah, thats the way we do it. Most of the conversations, thats the way they go," said Belichick. "If he brings something up to me I say Yeah, great. Thats the way we do it. The individual one-on-one drills, the team drills, the down-and-distance stuff, how we call things, its been very easy to work with them from a structural standpoint, which I expected it would be. I really did, just from our relationship and when we talked about it in the spring and then a couple times over the summer and then when we both came to training camp. Its been very easy. The degree of difficulty on this from a coaching standpoint and working together has been very low. No time and a lot of benefit, so those are the kind I like."

And what's not to like?

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on its own feel, its own flavor and - eventually - its own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: