By Tom Krasniqi (Twitter: @TKras)
Last year, the Patriots came down to Tampa during training camp to practice against the Buccaneers before their preseason tilt. The experience was beneficial for both teams. Now, the Bucs are about to return the favor.
The Bucs practiced Monday morning in helmets and shorts before making their final preparations for their flight to New England on Monday evening. The Bucs and Patriots will hold joint practice sessions this week as they get ready for Friday night’s preseason game in Foxboro. For New England, it’s just another day at the office. Last week, quarterback Tom Brady and the Pats practiced against the Eagles before their preseason opener in Philadelphia. Brady carved up the Eagles during those practice sessions so the Bucs defense will be put to the test.
Head coach Greg Schiano will prepare his team to practice and compete against his good buddy, Bill Belichick, and the Pats. “I think it’ll be an even better situation this year for a lot of reasons,” Schiano said after Monday’s practice. “One, we’re going up there to get out of the heat for a couple of days and our guys could use that right now”. Schiano also believes taking the team out of the area for a few days is good for team chemistry as well.
Schiano wants to model the Bucs after Belichick’s Patriots. “I do happen to agree with a lot of the things that they do,” Schiano said. “It’s great to be able to have a guy that’s been through it and experienced a lot of things….to bounce things off of sometimes. That’s certainly a huge asset for me and an opportunity for me.” Schiano does try and emulate Belichick in many ways—Tough, hard-nosed coach who’s detail oriented and big believers in discipline.
The players are also excited about getting out of the heat and going up to New England. Most importantly, it’ll give them a chance to practice against someone else for a change. Wideout Kevin Ogletree: “To be frank, I’m tired of going against our DBs and guys”.
Even though it’s just a joint practice session, the intensity should be amplified a bit. But make no mistake about it, it will be structured. It also means that fighting or tussling will not be tolerated. “We’re here to get better,” says Schiano. “Sometimes you hear stories of teams [fighting], that gets out of control….that’s not going to happen.”
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