Another week, and another joint practice session for the New England Patriots.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers practiced with the Pats on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will do so once more Thursday, before they face off at Gillette Stadium on Friday night (8, FOX). Hey, the joint practice worked for the Pats in Week 1’s preseason win over the Eagles, maybe it’ll work again in Week 2.
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Either way, Bill Belichick has gone on record as saying that he enjoys them from a production standpoint, and the lessons learned could prove more beneficial than solo practices.
But what will carry over from practice to the game?
We learned a few things about certain players during the first game. For one, former Buc LeGarrette Blount can still run the ball. The Pats traded a measly seventh-rounder and Jeff Demps to Tampa Bay for Blount during the NFL Draft, and if they can get even half of the production from him they got against the Eagles (101 rushing yards, two touchdowns), they’ll have gotten a steal.
“We just felt like he was a good player; talented player,” Belichick said. "Big back that can catch and run – I think he’s shown those skills throughout the course of his career. The player that we had, we weren’t really able to get on the field so we felt we’d rather have LeGarrette and he’s done a good job for us. I don’t think there’s any question about his skills.”
It’s a good thing Blount showed up, because the Pats offense in the second half wasn’t going far through the air with Tim Tebow playing QB. Tebow converted just 4-of-12 passes, with many of the misses ugly ones.
Tebow certainly needs to show improvement on Friday to quiet some of the doubters, but so does the other backup QB, Ryan Mallett, whose underwhelming play has gone under the radar.
It’s not all about the offense though. The Pats defense is also expected to show improvement all over the season. The Bucs have a different look on offense than the Eagles do, so New England will have to adjust as necessary.
“They’re more built for power,” Vince Wilfork told reporters, “but they have some skilled guys that can get down the field, that can run the ball, the offensive linemen are big, and the quarterback [Josh Freeman] is very mobile – and plus he can throw it in the pocket.”