The Coronavirus pandemic forced the NFL to cancel all preseason games and joint training camp practices last summer. With the league and the country as a whole slowly returning to normalcy again, however, both are expected to return in 2021.
The New England Patriots are reportedly already getting ready for this reopening of sorts, and are reportedly in talks with two of their preseason opponents about joining forces leading up to the games. According to a report by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the team is planning to hold joint sessions with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants:
The Patriots have known their opponents for some time, and if everything comes together with COVID-19 considerations, joint practices with the Eagles and Giants could be finalized. One possibility discussed, but is not official at this point, is having the Patriots-Giants practices in Foxborough, even though the game will be played in East Rutherford, N.J.
With the NFL switching to a 17-game regular season schedule this year, the Patriots will play only three preseason contests: they will host the Washington Football Team on August 12, and compete against both the Eagles (August 19) and Giants (August 29) on the road.
As noted by Reiss, the two games in Philadelphia and New Jersey could be preceded by joint training camp practices. This would not be a surprise given that the Patriots have good relationships with both organizations.
They already held joint practices with the Eagles in 2013 and 2014. While the club’s coaching staff has changed twice since then, general manager Howie Roseman is still running the football operations for the organization. As for the Giants, they have some deep Patriots connections as well: head coach Joe Judge spent eight seasons in New England as an assistant coach responsible for special teams and, in 2019, wide receivers.
In general, the Patriots are no strangers to joint practices. If not for Covid-19 wiping out the preseason slate last year, the team would have held sessions with the Detroit Lions; one year before that, New England practiced jointly with the Lions and Tennessee Titans.