Ready for the season opener?


The big countdown now is for training camp … Things go full-tilt on Thursday but, as we mentioned earlier this morning, it’s already underway for a good percentage of the roster.

Even with that in mind, here’s a number that might catch you off guard: 48.

That, believe it or not, is how many days we have left until the season opener against Cincinnati. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has often talked about how the goals for training camp are to prepare for the season as a whole and the first game in particular. So when I spoke with Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis last week (for my Sunday NFL Notes), I thought it’d be interesting to ask about the work he’s put in on New England.

“The goals of training camp are twofold,” Lewis said. “You want to get your young players immersed. But as coaches, you look downrange, and you make sure the things you’re doing are things that can be applied to the first couple games. We have principles, that we put in even through OTAs, that are in place and applicable to the Patriots and the first few games as a whole. It’s important to hit the ground running.”

We gave you a look at the Bengals as part of our preview series, to try and give you an idea of what they’re working with and what they’re up against getting ready for the season. One thing is for sure: Lewis and Co. know the challenge that’ll be in front of them in Week 1.

“It’s an important football game for us, and one we’ve been looking at from the time the schedule came out,” Lewis said. “Even before the schedule came out, we knew we had them and that’s an opponent we haven’t played in a few years, so there’s extra preparation to that. We know they’re one of the best teams in the NFL, and one of the best coached teams in the NFL.

“So right away, knowing they’ll be on the schedule, they have our attention, and then we find out it’s the first game, so we’ve already been looking quite a bit at the Patriots. They’re tough to prepare for. One of their biggest strengths is what you see from them offensively and defensively, and how they do such a great job of being a little bit different week-in and week-out.”


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