FOXBORO, Mass. — The third game of an NFL team’s preseason schedule bears the closest resemblance to a regular-season contest, but it’s still light years away from the real thing.
At least that’s the belief of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who detailed the differences between the two ahead of his team’s preseason matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
“Really across the board, this is a real good team that we are playing on the road, so that will be a little bit different,” Belichick said Monday. “I think this is a good opportunity for us to compete against arguably as good as any team in the league. All that being said, we’re not talking about a regular-season game here.
“We’re not talking about game-planning and all of those kind of things, which I can’t imagine would happen in this game, but they’re going to happen in a couple of weeks. So, it’s a whole different ballgame.
“I don’t think you can compare this game to a regular-season game, even though I’ve heard people try to do that. I’m not sure what game they’re looking at. In terms of evaluations, and just kind of straight-up evaluations, it’s a great opportunity for us. … But it’s just not from a game plan standpoint. We’re in a whole different ballgame there.”
Belichick did acknowledge, however, that this week will be more like a typical game week than the ones that preceded New England’s first two preseason contests. While those two weeks were filled with joint practices — first with the New Orleans Saints, then with the Chicago Bears — the Patriots will be practicing alone this week before traveling to Charlotte on Thursday ahead of Friday night’s game.
“Obviously, you don’t see them for two days before the preseason game, ” Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan said. “So now, it’s all about seeing them on film and watching a little bit more film, a little bit more time in the meeting room. Just kind of studying them so that when you go out there on Friday night, it’s really not like the first time you’re seeing them.”
Some additional notes from Monday:
— As you would expect from a team that went 15-1 and won its conference last season, the Panthers are loaded with talent. That’s especially true of their defensive front seven, which is led by 2015 Pro Bowl selections Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Kawann Short.
“Their front seven, they’re great,” Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon said. “They’re probably the best in the NFL. And we’ve got to do our due diligence this week of studying them and understanding them and working hard to continue to do good. It’s going to be a challenge.”
— The team took a stroll over to the Patriot Place cinema Sunday night to catch a screening of “Deepwater Horizon,” the new Mark Wahlberg flick set to hit theaters next month.
“(Patriots coach Bill Belichick) just kind of walked up to us, kind of in the old Bill Belichick way with not too much of an expression, and said, ‘We’re going to get some film in, but not football,’ ” defensive tackle Anthony Johnson told ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss on Monday. “‘We’re going to walk over to Patriot Place and watch a movie. ‘ ”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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