FOXBOROUGH – The buzz on the 10th practice day was looking ahead to the Saints. They’ll be practicing with the Patriots Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off at Gillette Stadium Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said there were no roster changes to report after the first morning practice of this training camp. The focus over the next couple of days will be reviewing tape from the joint sessions.
Caserio anticipates Thursday’s game as a way to evaluate the team’s state against one of the best teams in the NFL.
“Offensively they are very balanced,” he said. “They run the ball, running backs are involved in the passing game, they’re good in the screen game, they got a pretty good tight end, they got good receivers. Defensively, they have a lot of disruptive players on their front seven. It’s exciting for all of us. You get a barometer to where your team might be at this point.”
Caserio will also be looking for differences from the Saints’ personnel compared to last year.
“There may or may not be some new things schematically with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in there,” Caserio said.
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Monday marked the first day at practice with NFL referees, blowing their whistles at any violation just like a game.
“It’s good for everybody. It encourages them to treat it as if it’s a game situation, whether it’s holding, hand placement, flinching, illegal contact, especially for rookie defensive backs to have an understanding of the 5-yard rule and how it’s different to what it was in college,” Caserio said.
On the idea of center Dan Koppen playing guard: “Since Dan has been in the program, he’s basically played center since Day 1. He plays that position well. We work a lot of guys at different spots. That’s where Dan’s comfort level is, that’s what he has the most experience doing.”
On wide receiver Deion Branch’s limited practice time: “Deion had a good offseason. He was here, worked hard. Everybody’s at different stages. Some guys are ready to play, some guys aren’t ready to play. The NFL is about adjustments, so you coach the players that you have on the field.”
There’s a lot going on during practices with several groups focusing on their aspects of the game, making it hard to gather everything that’s going on. Caserio said he looks for execution but doesn’t take mistakes too seriously until they are reviewed on tape.
“You try to watch both sides of the ball,” he said. “You might have an idea based on the script where the play is going to go, what the players are supposed to do on each side of the ball. You can see whether or not they are able to execute that. You’re evaluating scheme, execution, the personnel. You watch the same practice two or three times, and that’s just part of the process.”