Patriots can learn a lot from opener
After going through the film of his team’s 7-6 preseason-opening win over the Saints Thursday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick found some positives and some areas that need improvement, which is common for most games but particularly true for exhibitions.
“There were definitely some encouraging things, and also a number of things we need to work on, both individually and from a team or overall scheme standpoint,” Belichick said on Friday. “But overall I thought the players competed well and obviously our first time out there, we were trying to get our game-day operation running without too many bumps in the road, so I thought that was a step in the right direction.”
With their second exhibition game, against the Eagles, not until Aug. 20, he noted that “the big thing for us this week is we have to take advantage of really the only chance we have in the whole preseason to actually string some practice days together, so it will be important for us to get the most out of them and try to improve our team, because when we play again, we have three games right in a row and there won’t be much time to do anything but quickly prepare for the next game.”
Belichick also said injured linebacker Dane Fletcher will probably be out for a while after he left Thursday’s game in the first quarter with what is believed to be a torn ACL.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s worked hard — he had a really good offseason and training camp,” said Belichick. “We’ve had good competition at that position; it will be an opportunity for someone else to step in, but it’s unfortunate for Dane.”
Asked if Fletcher will be placed on injured reserve, Belichick said he did not want to speculate.
Fletcher, in his third season, has been the top backup at middle linebacker behind Brandon Spikes. But Spikes missed another week of practice, meaning rookie Dont’a Hightower will slide to the middle with veteran Bobby Carpenter getting more time in the strongside spot.
“We’ll have to see how that goes,” Belichick said. “Those players have played multiple positions through training camp and even last night, so that’s one of the things we’ll talk about tomorrow or later on tonight as a staff, as we always do after a game and as we head into the next week.”
With no practice on Saturday, Belichick said he and his staff will take a look at the last two weeks, studying areas where execution has been solid as well as areas of need.
As for the three days spent with New Orleans, Belichick said there was a lot of value in the joint practices, even though they couldn’t hold double sessions like they did in 2010.
“I think we got a lot out of it, absolutely. They’re a good football team and they’re good to work with — [interim coach] Joe Vitt and his staff, Sean [Payton’s] staff, they do a great job and we certainly learned a lot and had a lot of good teaching situations come up in practice and in the game from working against the Saints. I’m glad we did it and we definitely got a lot out of it.”
The Patriots return to the practice field on Sunday evening.