FOXBORO, Mass. — It's not going to be much of a spiritual affair when the Saints visit the Patriots for three practices and one preseason game this week.
These two teams are just deep enough into training camp to the point where they're a little ornery and ready to blast someone in a different uniform. The Super Bowl champs will be fresh off their Monday trip to the White House, and the game tape of last year's nightmare in New Orleans is just vivid enough to still give the Patriots fits.
The combination should make for an exciting change of pace at training camp when the Pats and Saints hold a double-session Tuesday, one practice Wednesday and each team's preseason opener Thursday.
"It's going to be great," Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. "I think it's going to be great for the fans, too. I think there's going to be a pretty good buzz throughout practice this week."
The Patriots and Saints will hold their first practice Tuesday morning from 9-11, and they'll get after it again in the afternoon from 3:45-5:30, with each session open to the public. Wednesday morning's practice will also run from 9-11.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the teams will start practice working on their own drills, and they'll join together one-third (about 40 minutes) of the way through.
The hitting figures to be much more intense than is normal in training camp, but it's not expected to be completely live. Belichick said they'll "probably practice at team tempo that both teams use," which likely means they'll try to avoid big hits and heavy contact over the middle.
However, don?t rule out a mini-explosion.
"You can bang around with them a little bit and not have to worry about if you hurt a guy because it's not your teammate," cornerback Leigh Bodden said. "So that?s good, and it definitely gets guys prepared for the game, especially for the young guys."
Bodden has been through this drill before. The Browns practiced with the Bills during his first two years in the league, and things are bound to get testy. More than anything, the players are just sick of hitting their own teammates, but there are also about 35-40 guys on each team who are trying to earn one of the last 10 roster spots. This is as good of a time as any for them to get noticed.
"It's definitely intense, especially as a young guy," Bodden said. "I was an [undrafted] free agent, so I had to make a name for myself. I was going out there and doing any and everything I could to get noticed and show the coaches that I can play with another team and compete at the highest level."