A day after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in preseason action, Patriots coach Bill Belichick stressed another “big week” ahead for his team, which will travel to Tampa Bay on Tuesday evening for joint practices prior to Friday’s exhibition contest.
“It’s another big week for us, in terms of working three days against Tampa, seeing the different players, different style of play, working out in different conditions than what we’re used to and all that,” Belichick said. “[It’s a] good opportunity for us to improve our football team, and we’ll try to take advantage of each of these days and make the most out of it.”
It’s possible that Belichick will use Friday as a dress rehearsal for the regular season and play a number of starters for extensive reps, a customary practice among coaches during the third week of the preseason.
The Patriots could return two more starters to the offensive line this week, as Sebastian Vollmer was recently removed from the physically unable to perform list and guard Logan Mankins (who also recently returned to the practice field) may make his preseason debut on Friday night. That will help to solidify the unit, leaving perhaps center as the only remaining starting spot up for grabs.
On Monday, the team rotated through four players at the position, with Ryan Wendell starting the game and playing 17 of the 74 total snaps.
With less than a week remaining before the first roster cutdown to 75 players, this week in Tampa Bay, which includes two joint practices, provides players on the bubble a great opportunity to make their case.
On Tuesday, Belichick explained some of the thinking behind his wanting to partake in joint practices with Tampa Bay.
“As a coach, you try to do what’s best for your team,” he said. “And if you feel like you can do something that can benefit your team, then you consider doing it. And [if] it works out, and you can, the logistics and the timing -- whatever other circumstances are involved -- you’re going to work it out to the point that it’s beneficial for your club, then that’s something that I would want to do."