Joint practices allow NFL coaches to hold players out of preseason games

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talks to offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich during a training camp practice on July 28 in Tampa, Fla. (AP file photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady will get his reps in joint practices against the Miami Dolphins this week instead of an exhibition game. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played a preseason snap since 2018.

Justin Herbert is expected to again watch from the sideline this month.

Thirty of the NFL’s 32 teams will kick off their preseason schedules this week — the Raiders and Jaguars already played in the Hall of Fame Game — and many teams will hold their starters out until the games count in the standings.

The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers both play Friday night.

For Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles, it’s an easy decision to keep the 45-year-old Brady on the bench when Tampa Bay hosts Miami on Saturday night. The teams will hold joint practices today and Thursday. Those are valuable reps in a more controlled setting.

“Obviously, with one less preseason game right now, you need to get all the work in that you can get in,” Bowles said about joint practices.

Coaches have been getting used to the shortened preseason since the league and the NFL Players Association eliminated one exhibition game in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. That year, there were no preseason games because of COVID-19.

“I thought we were OK last year with it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I felt pretty good about that. You’re going to make sure that your guys get enough work in there that are going to play. And at the same time, you try to balance it out where you can see the young guys. So, it’s always that fourth game that you got to see the young guys quite a bit. But again, we’ve worked that out where we’ll get a good look and we’ll see them.”

More teams are holding joint practices with their opponents ahead of games now that the preseason schedule has been cut down. A total of 23 teams are doing joint sessions with one team and seven clubs are doing it with two. Teams weren’t permitted to hold joint sessions last season because of COVID-19 protocols.

“Live exposure versus different people is a really good evaluation tool to see where we’re at,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today