The New England Patriots have never shied away from joining forces with another club in training camp, and it appears that 2022 will not be an exception either. The Patriots are reportedly planning to set up joint practices with the Carolina Panthers this summer.
According to a report by Joe Person of The Athletic, the two teams expect to share the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium ahead of a planned preseason matchup. The NFL has not yet announced its preseason or regular season schedule for this year, but a Patriots-Panthers game would take place in August.
While nothing is official as of yet, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule did confirm his team’s plans to work with the Patriots this summer.
Speaking to reporters at the annual NFL meeting in Palm Beach, FL, Rhule said that the league has to approve the plan but that he and his Patriots counterpart, Bill Belichick, have discussed the matter. The Panthers’ coach is expecting to get some “good, productive work” out of the joint sessions with New England.
“I just know everything they do is first class,” Rhule said about the Patriots (via The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin).
The Patriots have regularly held such joint practices through the years, missing out only twice since the 2011 lockout: they opted to practice alone in 2018 and were not allowed to team up with another club due to Covid-19 guidelines in 2020. Last year, New England worked with the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants ahead of the respective preseason contests.
“We have an opportunity to work with another team that helps players playing against different players, but it also helps us see different schemes,” Belichick said about the benefits of joint practices last summer. “The way another team does something is different than the way we do it, so it’s a great opportunity. ...
“This is really just a good opportunity to see ... things quickly, without knowing exactly what’s coming as a coach, figure it out, explain it to the players if it needs to be explained, and then make the right adjustment to handle it. Not wait until the game’s over. Not wait until Monday morning. Try to do it in real time.”
Despite the NFL changing to a three-game preseason format last year, the Patriots adding another sparring partner would not be a surprise. The belief is that the Giants are another candidate given that the two clubs traditionally face each other in the final game of the exhibition schedule.
The league is expected to announce the full preseason schedule in the coming days.