They would be in Virginia, of course, preparing for their first preseason game with Washington on Thursday.
The Patriots are holding joint practices with Washington through Wednesday, and apparently a lot of their fans followed them. According to media tweets coming out of Richmond, Va., where Washington practices, the cheers are quite loud every time Tom Brady completed a pass against the Washington defense – which was often.
While preseason games, especially the first one, seldom say much about the regular season, this one could be intriguing for New Englanders. The Patriots have a lot of questions to answer in the next four weeks and it all starts Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. You can watch the game on WMTW, Channel 8.
And even though they won’t play much, it will be interesting to see who lines up as starters.
The Patriots released their “unofficial” depth chart in the game release and it’s worth noting that Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are slotted as the two starting wide receivers, with Kenbrell Thompkins and the injured Aaron Dobson listed at No.2. Dobson, of course, is hurt and won’t play. That means Brandon LaFell, signed from Carolina as a free agent, should get some snaps. Former UMaine receiver Derrick Johnson is down the list and will need to make an impression in this game to move up.
Defensively, Duron Harmon is listed as the starting safety alongside Devin McCourty. Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson are next in line and both should play extensively.
Rob Gronkowski is listed as the starting tight end, but since he didn’t make the trip down, I don’t expect him to play. It’s likely he will play very little in the preseason games.
More interesting than the game may be the three practices the teams will share. Joint practices have always been held in the NFL. But the number of them have increased the last few years. The Patriots, for example, will return home after the Washington game and hold joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 12 and 13, both open the the public.
Speaking on Monday morning, Bill Belichick said the joint practices give his players and staff a chance to work with other organizations.
“I’m sure there are plenty of things we can learn from the way (Washington does) things,” he said. “Maybe there will be some things we do the same and if there are things that are different, we’ll probably take a look at them and say, ‘Is that something we could do?’ I’m sure we’ll find out something.
“As a head coach of an NFL team, you don’t really get many opportunities to see what other people are doing.”
As far as the intensity goes, Belichick said there will be live hitting drills, but that the coaches will monitor both teams to make sure no one gets hurt.