TAMPA — According to new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, a joint practice can’t be held with just anybody, just any team.
The Patriots came to Florida’s Gulf Coast a few days before their exhibition game with the Buccaneers to share the practice field with the host team, with the goal of giving players on both sides the chance to work against players other than their teammates, to see different schemes and plays, and to get work in different situations.
This is the second time this preseason the Patriots have had joint practices, having worked with the Saints for two days before their Aug. 9 exhibition game. In 2010, New England hosted New Orleans for practices, and also traveled to Atlanta for the same.
Schiano and Bill Belichick, who have had a long professional relationship, talked about what it takes to hold successful sessions.
“I’d like to do [more of it], but you’ve got to have the right relationship with the other head coach and trust that what we do together is among us,” Schiano said. “Certainly, down the road, we could end up playing each other. That’s fine. I don’t worry about that.”
It took some coordination, Schiano said, to have two teams on three fields over the last two days, but both found value in the practices.
“I’d say just the No. 1 thing is that it’s not about beating somebody in practice, it’s about working with somebody and getting better,” Belichick said. “We’re not here to try to win a drill or trick Tampa on something. That’s not the point of it.
“The point is to work on what we want to work on and work on what they’re working on, so that we can become better and when we walk off the field we’re a better team than we were when we walked on it.
“That’s the way we practice against each other. We compete against each other, but we compete in a way that we can improve each other — not get guys hurt, not a bunch of piles, not fight, and get all caught up in did he gain 5 yards, did he gain 2 yards, did we sack the quarterback, did we not sack the quarterback?
“We pull off, we don’t hit the quarterback, we don’t hit guys that are — the same way we wouldn’t hit our guys in practice. We take care of each other, but we work hard and we set up the drill so that they’re fair, competitive drills.”
The teams held a full-pads practice Wednesday, and Belichick said they worked on a lot of core situations, such as first, second, and third down. On Thursday, in shells, the tempo was slower (with the game coming up Friday), and there was more of an emphasis on situations neither team may see very often but must be prepared for just in case.
“It’s going to get competitive, you’re going to have guys that trash-talk, but that’s part of the game,’’ said the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork. “I don’t think there’s any negative thing about this. I think both teams, both sides got some very, very quality reps.
“[The Buccaneers] are facing a team that’s bigger and stronger, and we’re facing a team that’s a lot quicker. That’s a different look for both sides, but we need it.
“There’s going to be a point in time during the season we’re going to face a team like this, so it’s good to get it early to see how we need to work on some things going forward. And I think that’s exactly what we got done this week.”
This is Deion Branch’s first experience with joint practices. He saw nothing but positives, and noted how the Patriots, Saints, and Buccaneers were all respectful of one another.
Count it as a win all around.
“We’ve tried to create game-like situations but structured in a way that we know what we’re doing and we can get the right people on the field, we can be competitive with each other and not get into a situation where somebody is overmatched or undermatched,” Belichick said.
“This was fun,” Tampa Bay’s Adrian Clayborn said. “I think we should do it more often to give guys a reason to go out and practice hard. You always want to practice hard, but this was different.”