FOXBOROUGH - With unfavorable weather in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon, Bill Belichick and Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano decided to move the start of the day's practice up three hours.
Before heading onto the field, Belichick said again that he's looking forward to the Patriots working with the Buccaneers and making more progress as a team, and everything has been planned to maximize their time together.
"We just try to organize them so we can get the most out of them; understand what we're trying to do in each drill and work cooperatively to have productive practices, similar to what we would do if we were practicing with ourselves and what we did last week with Philadelphia," Belichick said. "We worked with them last year, so I feel like we had a pretty good experience with how things went last year, we had to make a few adjustments last year, hopefully those will be smooth this year, I'm not expecting any problems."
Unlike other teams the Patriots have had joint practices with, New England faces Tampa Bay in the regular season, with the Bucs coming back to Foxborough in Week 3. Belichick said that doesn't change how the teams will approach the coming days.
"I don't think right now that's what we're worried about; we're trying to improve our team," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do and I think we can get better this week working against the Bucs, and that's what we're about. We'll worry about five, six weeks from now whenever that gets here."
New England acquired running back LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay on draft weekend, sending Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick in exchange for Blount.
Belichick said getting a player with Blount's talent was appealing - but it's clear he was OK with unloading Demps, who had told the team he was going to return to track and would not be with the team in training camp. (Demps is in the pool of runners competing for the U.S. in the 4x100 at the World Championships this week and has not yet reported to the Bucs.)
"We just felt like he was a good player, talented player. Big back that can catch and run, and he showed those skills throughout the course of his career," Belichick said of Blount. "The player that we had [Demps], we weren't really able to get on the field, so we'd rather have LeGarrette.
"He's done a good job for us. I don't think there's any question about his skills; they're pretty good, and they have been throughout his career. Tampa's got a great back, I certainly understand their situation - Pro Bowl back as a rookie - I understand that, but I have a lot of respect for LeGarrette and what he's done through his career and he's had a good spring for us and a good training camp for us. I think he helps us."
Belichick was asked if he intends on keeping Tim Tebow on the 53-man roster if the quarterback is healthy, but he wasn't about to tip his hand.
"We're just...that's not anything that we're ready to talk about right now. A lot of competition out there, and we'll see how it all plays out," he said.