FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill Belichick won’t spend any time on the golf course when the New England Patriots travel to The Greenbrier for joint practice sessions with the New Orleans Saints later this week.
For the fourth straight year, the Patriots and Saints will participate in two joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday at the luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. “We have quite a bit to do,” the Patriots coach said before Monday’s practice. “It’s a big trip for us — both for our team, but we also have to try to keep staying ahead of the things that will be coming up pretty quickly. I don’t think this will be a big golf weekend, nor does it need to be.” Belichick’s primary focus in West Virginia will be the practices with the Saints, but he is also looking ahead at the Patriots’ upcoming opponents.
“Really now is the time of year when a lot of times you’re looking at three, four, five different teams,” Belichick said. “New Orleans, getting ahead on Carolina, the Giants, Pittsburgh, obviously — teams in the early part of the schedule just to kind of start to get a feel for them.”
For the players, the joint practices present an opportunity to face a higher level of competition.
“It’s just good to go versus another opponent,” All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “You get great competition going against your defense every single day, but it’s always good to switch up opponents because every single week you’re definitely playing a new opponent.”
“There’s going to be great competition down there,” offensive lineman Nate Solder said. “We’re just going to work hard and get as much out of it as we can.”
New England held a full-pads practice in grueling 90-degree temperatures Monday, and it came at a cost. Rookie offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson suffered an undisclosed injury and was carted off the field. The team did not update Jackson’s condition after practice. Some players thrived in the heat, as veteran cornerback Tarell Brown had a pair of interceptions during 11-on-11 drills — all while wearing long sleeves.
“It’s not that bad,” Brown said about the muggy conditions. “I just think (the long sleeves) gives you a little extra sweat, something I’ve been doing since my first start in the league. Keep you from pulling muscles and things like that.”
NOTES: Gronkowski, swamped by reports after practice, joked that he can’t wait until Tom Brady, currently in a legal battle with the NFL over the deflated football issue, starts talking again… . Solder returned to the practice field after missing the Patriots’ preseason opener last Thursday. “It was awesome to be back today. Felt good,” Solder said. … Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was spotted on the sideline at Monday’s practice.