Reporting Dan Roche
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was in a great mood when he addressed the media in Philadelphia on Tuesday prior to his team hitting the practice field with the Eagles.
The Patriots and Eagles will practice together twice this week ahead of Friday night’s preseason opener, and Belichick feels like everyone on the team can get something out of these joint practices.
“I think it will be a good experience for our team to see some different people, different schemes and some different matchups,” Belichick said from the NovaCare Complex — the Eagles’ headquarters. “It will be great from a coaching standpoint because we’ll have to make some adjustments during practice and as we go. We haven’t done a lot of scouting, so a lot will be done on the run which will be good for us too in regards to matchups and communication.
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“It’s good for everybody; good for the young guys, good for the old guys, good for the old coaches – good for all of us,” Belichick continued. “We see something new; we’ve been working against ourselves for quite a while now and you sort of start to know each other’s plays and calls. Now we get a whole new set of faces and things we don’t know. You can’t anticipate it as well and that’s good for all of us.”
Here are a few observations from Tuesday’s joint practice:
- It was apparent early on that the intensity has picked up. The two teams began on separate fields, but in a 3-on-3 running drill it was clear the physicality is picking up for New England. Even the coaches are into it, barking out orders to their players.
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- When it came to wide receiver vs. defensive backs drills, the Patriots dominated. Rookie Aaron Dobson made a ridiculous one-handed grab in front of me on the sidelines where he had to turn his back to get it. Fellow rookies Josh Boyce and Kembrall Thompkins dazzled as well, with Boyce coming up with a trio of impressive catches and Thompkins one of his own. Meanwhile, Danny Amendola beat former Patriots safety Patrick Chung two straight times.
- Dobson’s day did not last too much longer after his one-handed catch; he got into a tussle with Eagles corner Cary Williams and neither practiced the rest of the day. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said there was an agreement in place that if anyone fought they would be done for the day.
- The two teams then moved on to special teams drills, where the Eagles kick return unit stole the show. But new Patriots return-man Leon Washington did draw a “wow” from the crowd due to his speed on one return.
- The team’s did some Red Zone work, though there was no offensive or defensive lines so the quarterbacks had all the time in the world to make their throws. Brady hit rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld for a nice touchdown, with the rookie making a nice grab on his end. Eagles QB Nick Foles — who is battling it out with Michael Vick for the Eagles starting job — hit DeSean Jackson with a nice 10-yard strike.
The Pats and Eagles will practice for roughly two hours (until about 2:30 p.m.) with players set to talk afterwards. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one of the players scheduled to speak, so we’ll pass along his thoughts on the joint practice later this afternoon.
Brady and the Patriot are no strangers to these joint practices. This is the third time in the last four years the Patriots have held joint practices with a preseason opponent, and the only reason they didn’t do it in 2011 was because of the lockout.
Tune in to Friday’s Patriots-Eagles preseason game on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5 FM at 4:30 p.m. and on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m..