The New England Patriots will be making their way to the Greenbrier in West Virginia to spend three days practicing with the Saints before the Aug. 22 preseason game between the two teams, Sean Payton confirmed on Thursday after a report by Pro Football Talk.
New Orleans also contemplated scheduling joint practices with the Houston Texans on Aug. 30, but Payton and the Saints ultimately decided to stick with the Patriots.
Payton said the fact that Houston will be the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks didn’t play a big factor in the decision to hold joint practices with only one team.
“I think this will be the third time we’ve done it, and that’s really the only planned joint practice,” Payton said. “We’ve discussed and talked about a second team, but really, the decision was more about getting back into a schedule here. And then certainly, I recognize the fact that they’re going to be featured on Hard Knocks, but it’s really about what’s best for us.”
The Saints will head back to New Orleans permanently after the preseason game against New England.
The level of familiarity Payton has with Patriots coach Bill Belichick has built a level of trust in practicing together.
“Our experience has been when we’ve had practices with New England, and I can’t speak for Bill, but I think we’ve done a really good job of focusing on certain periods (of practice and points of emphasis),” Payton said.
For the players, the joint practices come at a good time, right in the middle of a camp that can start to feel long.
“I enjoy it, because it breaks up the monotony of camp,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “You just get tired of going up against each other and the same old deal every day. Any time you have a chance to go up against a defense that’s naturally give you different looks, different personnel, it’s almost like preparing for a game a couple days in a row when you’re going up against another team.”