Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided this preseason he would try something different. He invited the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints to Foxborough a few days prior to their Thursday night exhibition game for three joint practices.
What has transpired is two days that have been a spirited learning experience for the players and coaches. By going against another team, these practices helped the Patriots coaches in their evaluation process of their players. How will the players react to different situations?
“With coach Belichick, we are always evaluating,” defensive line coach Pepper Johnson said. “Take a look at everything thoroughly and see where we’re at.”
Tuesday afternoon, both sides seemed to have increased intensity on their minds. Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly discusses what he saw during this session.
-Brandon Spikes showed some nice range in pass coverage during a team period. He dropped effectively into his zone and knocked away a Drew Brees pass intended for Colston.
-With both sides working with a bit more intensity than is normally the case in practice, defenses seemed to be around the quarterbacks more often. Banta-Cain got to Brees for a would-be sack early in practice, and Will Smith actually knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand for a would-be strip sack a bit later.
As a fan I think it is difficult to take too much out of the joint practices with the Saints. However, the coaches got a chance to put their players in situations to see how they would react. These practices were a learning and evaluation experience.