RICHMOND, Va. - Bill Belichick has been at the forefront of many innovative schemes and team building exercises over the years and one of the more recent trends he's been tied to is joint practices. On Monday he brought his team down to Richmond to work with the Washington Redskins, which became the fifth team to hold joint practices with New England since 2010.
One difference with this particular opponent is the lack of a direct connection between the organizations. Atlanta (GM Thomas Dimitroff), New Orleans (head coach Sean Payton), Philadelphia (head coach Chip Kelly) and Tampa Bay (head coach Greg Schiano) all had direct ties to Belichick.
In the case of the Redskins, first-year head coach Jay Gruden had no such connection to Belichick, but the Patriots coach felt with the teams squaring off in the first preseason game on Thursday night that there would be enough benefit to working together.
“I know the members of our coaching staff have also worked closely with their guys. [Patriots defensive coordinator] Matt [Patricia] on our end and [Redskins offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay] or [Patriots offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] and [Redskins defensive coordinator] Jim Haslett and so forth, just coordinate some things there. I feel like things are in place from the logistical standpoint. We just need to go out there and have a good practice.”
From the Patriots perspective it would appear the team was able to accomplish that goal on Day 1. After both teams did some stretching and individual drills, the sides came together for some 1-on-1 work followed by 7-on-7 and then full team periods.
Offensively the passing game looked sharp from the get-go.
The defense was just as effective operating on the adjacent field. After allowing a few completions during 7-on-7s, including a deep ball or two, the unit fared much better in 11-on-11 work. The front seven applied consistent pressure and the coverage made life difficult on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Overall the effort had to be pleasing to the entire group.
“We had no problems. We worked well together. It was a physical practice,”
New and improved
Cross another milestone off the list for Wilfork. Coming off a ruptured Achilles that limited him to four games a year ago, the veteran defensive co-captain continues to show no ill effects from the injury.
“I feel fine. To me, that's in the past. I don't even think about it,” Wilfork said. “From the first day I stepped on the field with full pads back at Gillette, I knew I could move around and play on it. I really didn't think much of it after that. It's an afterthought to me right now.”
Wilfork also added an interesting nugget, saying that he shed some pounds off his massive 325-pound frame with the idea of helping his rehab in mind. He appeared to move without limitation on Monday and showed his trademark power in individual drills.
“My training camp began a long time ago -- in March,” Wilfork said. “I've been working for a long, long time and there's a reason I feel good and a reason I have the confidence to play. It won't stop. Every year I always try to work on something and one of the things [this year] was, with an Achilles the more weight you can try to take off the better your body feels. I tried that and it went well. That might be something in the long run where if I feel that helped me, it might be something I have to stick with.
Belichick was asked if he had any memories of the Redskins organization dating back to his days as the Giants defensive coordinator, when the teams met routinely in big games. As usual, the coach went back even further than that when discussing his Washington ties.
“This is kind of the, I'd say, almost second home my first year in the league,” he began “When Coach [Ted] Marchibroda came over from the Redskins, he brought the whole Redskins program with him. I remember just everything we did, one of my jobs was to white out Washington Redskins and type in Baltimore Colts on it and then Xerox it off. It was literally the same – the same offense and Maxie Baughan was the same defensive coordinator and it was the same defense. I remember there was a couple pages somehow that snuck into the playbook that Redskins didn't get whited out and I heard about it on that.
“This organization has a lot of tradition, great history and of course when I was with the Giants we had a great rivalry at the Redskins and Coach [Joe] Gibbs and playing them twice a year, sometimes three times. Those were some great battles that I'll never forget. They were just a huge part of my career. That was Redskins, 49ers – those were kind of the biggest games on the schedule each year.”
Play of the Day – It came late in the practice and during a segment where both teams were using players well down on the depth chart but
In addition to Bolden,
There was one other minor change to the recent injury report as rookie linebacker
The Patriots and Redskins will be back at it tomorrow with practice set to begin at 1:35 p.m., which should make for some steamy conditions in the humidity. … Interesting to see Brady wearing his brace on his left knee for the first time this summer. Last year you may recall him giving everyone a scare when Tampa's Adrian Clayborn fell into his knee during joint practices in Foxborough with the Bucs. He said at the time that he intended to wear the brace anytime there was another team on the field. … Wide receiver Cole Stanford was released over the weekend and linebacker