After spending time in training camp with other teams in joint practices each of the last six seasons it looks like the Patriots will be on their own this summer. For various reasons the Patriots are currently not scheduled to conduct practices with any of their preseason opponents, meaning things could be different than in the recent past.
When working with another team, Bill Belichick has often talked about the ability to use his front-line players extensively in a controlled environment. That extended work, often while creating scenarios and situations that are far less predictable than in a preseason game, often replaced playing time in the exhibitions.
One such memorable practice took place in Richmond, Va., with the Redskins when the teams remained out on the practice field for nearly three hours. When the teams met in the preseason opener two nights later, most of the regulars received cameos if any playing time at all.
So with a change to the projected schedule this summer, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Will the lack of joint practices have an impact on the playing time for the starters in the preseason?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The best part of the joint practices for the coaches is the ability to create specific situations for their starters in order to best prepare them for the regular season. With those practices not available, something will need to change in order to get everyone up to speed.
That means the starters will likely see an uptick in their playing time during the preseason games. It won't be anything too dramatic but if Tom Brady would have sat out the first exhibition game in the past he might get a series or two this time around.
Coaches are creatures of habit and they need to do whatever it takes to best prepare their teams for the regular season. If the competition and controlled environment of joint practices aren't available, then the preseason games will have to serve as their replacement.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Not having the joint practices will definitely change the feel of training camp for the Patriots this summer. The competition of working with and against a different team in addition to having the ability to create situations that best prepare the team will be sorely missed. But that doesn't mean the players will now be subjected to significantly more playing time in the meaningless preseason games.
There are too many unknown variables that are impossible to predict in exhibition games, and not just two-minute drills and down-and-distance work. The summer is filled with young players looking to find their way onto NFL rosters. Sometimes those players are playing at a different level than an NFL veteran during the summer, and that can lead to some dangerous situations that can lead to injuries.
There's no need to subject veterans to unnecessary risk in the preseason. Most understand how to prepare for the regular season and Bill Belichick knows this. The preseason is for young players in need of experience and those are the ones who will continue to see the bulk of the action.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.