After many of the Patriots' key players watched the preseason opener, Belichick has noted a few times the playbook will really expand as they prepare for Thursday night's road game against the Buccaneers. Because of that, it might be reasonable to expect quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker, linebacker Jerod Mayo, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and cornerback Devin McCourty to highlight the group who will debut in game action.
"I think this is a big week for us coming up here," Belichick said. "We’ve got some things we can build on from training camp and [the] preseason game against Jacksonville. Now we have to start stacking some things on top of that in terms of situations and a little bit of an expansion in our system, so [there are] a lot of things we need to cover."
The Patriots noticeably picked up the pace last week when they worked on a number of situational aspects, including goal-line offense, the two-minute offense and onside kicks. Belichick also dictated plenty of situations by moving them across the field and changing the down and distance on sequential plays. It's a tactic he often utilizes to keep his players mentally sharp.
Saturday's practice — the first since Thursday's game against the Jaguars — featured a higher pace from the offense, and the Patriots tried some unique things on that end. They plan to practice every day until departing Wednesday for Tampa, and Belichick has made it sound like there will be more of an effort to get the starters ready to go.
"It’s obviously a big week for us in terms of building on where we’re at," Belichick said.