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BOSTON (CBS) — The practice fields behind Gillette Stadium will be a lot more crowded this week.

That’s because the Patriots are welcoming in some newcomers, who are looking to come into the defending champ’s home and steal the show.

The Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars will hold their first of three joint practices in Foxboro on Monday morning, leading up to Thursday night’s preseason opener at Gillette. The practice sessions on Monday and Tuesday will be normal joint practices and will both be open to the public, while Wednesday will be a joint walkthrough and closed to the public.

In what has become a yearly tradition for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, these joint practices give both teams an opportunity to work on things with an actual opponent lining up on the other side of the field. It also gives players a chance to hit someone other than their teammates before the preseason gets underway.

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots secondary matches up with Allen Robinson, Jacksonville’s 6-foot-3 receiver. While Stephon Gilmore will likely see most of the action against bigger receivers this season, Malcolm Butler and Eric Rowe will probably see some time on Robinson over the next three days as well. On the other side, we’ll also get a better feel for just how healthy New England’s own crop of receivers are, with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola have all dealt with various bumps and bruises in the early days of camp.

Tom Brady will also get a chance to perform surgery against someone other than his own defense, and we’ll see if Jimmy Garoppolo’s play improves now that practice will resemble a game more than just practice.

The Jags are one of three teams the Patriots will hold joint sessions with this preseason, as they’ll also join up the Houston Texans next week and hold a joint walkthrough with the Detroit Lions ahead of the third preseason game.

 

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