Well this is fun. The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons have a recent history intertwined due to the Falcons' GM, Tom Dimitroff, being a former member of the Patriots front office staff. The Patriots are set to have a pre-season game against the Falcons on the 19th of August, that's not news. What's fun is that Belichick and Dimitroff are organizing joint practices leading up to the game.
I'm sure these practices won't be revealing any real strategy, but it will be a good look as to which team is better conditioned, which could help down the road. Now Ian Rapoport of the Rap Sheet is insinuating that the teams might be scrimmaging up to the pre-season game. I could see team vs team blocking drills, or passing drills, which would be win-win for both teams. I can see, at the end of the week, a full mini-game being played against each other prior to the pre-season game.
A joint practice and scrimmage would allow the Patriots a chance to see how other teams prepare. It provides a change of scenery with different opposing players. Young players like Taylor Price will get to see what it's like to face off against Dunta Robinson, as opposed to a player they share a locker room with. Devin McCourty will get to hunt for Matt Ryan as opposed to Tom Brady. I think these joint practices will greatly help our young players.
Mike Reiss breaks down the pros and cons of the joint practices/scrimmages.
1. Breaking up the monotony of training camp with a fresh approach, which could spark players.
2. A new level of competitiveness that can't be reached in a training camp setting because it involves another team.
3. Environment that fosters togetherness in the team-building process.
1. Injuries as teams get away from the more controlled environment of training camp. For example, one fear of coaches is that a longer shot rookie looking to impress could injure a veteran by not holding up at the whistle.
2. In scrimmaging another team, you give them a closer look at all of your players and they could wind up signing them should they become available -- which could hurt a team looking to slide the players onto their practice squad.
3. Fights. Last year's Saints-Texans scrimmage included a few dust-ups (see Houston Chronicle link), which seems to highlight the fine line teams are walking in scrimmages between reaching that desired intensity level but keeping things in line.
This event is another show of good faith between two strong franchises with good history.