FOXBORO (CBS) – When the New England Patriots take the practice field Tuesday afternoon, they won’t be going against each other anymore.
The Patriots and New Orleans Saints will hold two joint practices this week, starting Tuesday, leading up to their Thursday night preseason game at Gillette.
“[They’ll] definitely be a big challenge,” head coach Bill Belichick said of the Saints. “They’re good on defense; good in the kicking game. They have a good, strong team; they’re solid. They’ll have a game under their belt so it will be good competition. [I’m] looking forward to it.”
“We’ve done it before, so hopefully we can get a lot out of it,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “They’re a very good team. It’s fun to have a game week and we’ve been trying to string practices together. We’ve had some good ones, we’ve had some ones that haven’t been great and you try to learn from your mistakes and come back and not repeat them. So now you get to see a different set of defenses, opponents, matchups and personnel and we’re going to see where we’re at.”
The Patriots have held joint practices in the past, teaming up with Saints in 2010. They will also hold a joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to their preseason meeting in late August.
For some though, this is the first time they’ll hit the practice field against another team.
“I think it’s good to go against another team; guys who aren’t familiar with your patterns and alignments and releases,” said receiver Brandon Lloyd. “The competition is the fun part of practicing, but to go against another team ramps it up a bit.”
“It’s actually the first practice the New England Patriots can rally together against another football team,” added Lloyd. “It’s definitely something to look forward to.”
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While the competition in camp has driven players to give it their all, going against another team will help them a lot more as the regular season approaches.
“Just for the players it’s kind of cool after, I guess, killing each other for a while to get some new guys in here, new competition; especially when you go against a group of guys like the Saints,” said third-year corner Devin McCourty. “We know they’re a great team year in and year out. I think everyone is just looking forward to competing.”
The WBZ Family has you covered for Thursday’s preseason opener. Pregame coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub kicks off at 4pm, and following the Patriots-Saints tune in the Patriots Postgame Show. Tune in to a special Patriots Pregame on WBZ-TV at 7pm, and following the game hear all the reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter.