The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to have joint practice sessions prior to their preseason game on Aug. 19. The practices will be held down in the Falcons’ Flowery Branch practice facility on Aug. 17 for morning and afternoon sessions. The joint practices reunite Head Coach Bill Belichick and Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. Dimitroff was the Pats’ Director of College Scouting before becoming Atlanta’s GM. Dimitroff, along with Head Coach Mike Smith and Dimitroff’s first pick, QB Matt Ryan, have rebuilt the Atlanta franchise after the Michael Vick saga threatened to knock the team in to the NFL’s basement for years. Now, the Falcon’s are a year removed from the playoffs and are a favorite to return this season. Scrimmaging with the Falcons will be a good test to see how the Pats measure up early on. Dimitroff is excited about the joint practices with his former team.
“We’re looking forward to matching up with a talented team,” Dimitroff said.
“The benefit is having an opportunity to put the pads on against an opponent during those long drawn-out days of camp. It’s a fresh injection of competition and energy. We’re excited that coach Belichick and the Patriots have agreed to this. We’re fired up the same for this one…”
ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss has a nice article looking at the benefits and the risks of teams having joint practices. Among the benefits he lists are the added levels of intensity at practice and the team-building that takes place, while the risks he lists are increased injury risk and the possibility a fight will break out. I think that it may be a good thing to see that level of intensity from this team. They haven’t seemed to have the fire an up-and-coming hungry team has, so maybe a fight might fire them up. Anything that will help the team building process with a team that had some locker room chemistry issues will be a positive.