ASHBURN, Va. -- The joint practices provided a different look for players and an opportunity for coaches, including then-offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The workouts against Atlanta shaped Cincinnati’s roster and settled starting jobs. So when Gruden learned that New England coach Bill Belichick was interested in coming to Richmond, Virginia, he wanted to make sure it happened.
The Washington Redskins and New England Patriots will conduct three days of joint practices prior to their Aug. 7 preseason game at FedEx Field. They'll practice on different fields (there are two at the Bon Secours facility). On Aug. 4, they'll practice at 8:35 a.m. and have a walk-through at 4:10. Aug. 5 and 6, there will be one practice each day -- at 1:35 p.m. and 8:35 a.m., respectively.
“This is a great way to change it up a little bit, see where you are with your personnel,” Gruden said, “see their ones against your ones, twos against their twos, threes against their threes. It might juggle the depth chart a little bit after that.”
This all started with a phone call by Belichick to Redskins president/general manager Bruce Allen after the preseason schedule was released, a team source said. Belichick wanted to gauge Gruden's interest.
Last season, the Bengals spent two days practicing against the Falcons before an exhibition game.
The workouts broke up the drudgery of camp. After a while, it’s tough to keep facing teammates in practices – especially teammates who know what play is coming or how the guy they're facing will react to various moves or situations. That can make it tough for coaches to fully evaluate. Now, they can watch, for example, how the offensive linemen pick up different stunts. Or how certain route combinations work against different coverages. Or how the quarterbacks adjust to the same coverages.
“A lot of times you script these plays and you kind of know where the defense is, you know what players are going to get,” Gruden said. “But these are unscripted plays and you’re able to see how players react to different types of things. One of the major issues in football is how players adjust and if they can’t adjust to different looks, then they’re not going to be very effective. It’s good for everybody.”