The Patriots have long been proponents of joint workouts with other teams in training camp.
And Patriots coach Bill Belichick may be using those snaps to take the place of evaluation he’d otherwise need a preseason game for.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the Patriots held 40 of their 90 players out of their preseason opener, far more than the rest of the league. The league average was 14 players per team being held out, with the Steelers (24), Cowboys (21) and Raiders (20) closest to New England.
But Belichick said after three days of joint practices with the Jaguars, he didn’t feel compelled to play as many people on Thursday night.
“We played a lot of guys in practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Jacksonville, so a lot of guys that are going to play for us got a lot of reps,” Belichick said during his pregame radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “[This game] will give us a chance to look at some of those guys that didn’t get as many reps in practice, so we’ll try to balance that out.”
The Patriots have two more days of joint workouts this week with the Texans in West Virginia before they play Saturday night in Houston.
So while it might be too early to call it a trend, it’s an interesting idea at a time when more and more people are questioning the necessity of four preseason games.