Most teams probably don’t look forward to facing Bill Belichick and the Patriots during the regular season, but the preseason is a different story.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on Tuesday confirmed he recently filed a request for his team to visit the New England Patriots this August. The two teams would participate in joint practices ahead of a preseason matchup at Gillette Stadium.
Despite Carolina’s 24-6 home loss to the Patriots last season, Rhule is eager for the Panthers to spend a week with one of the NFL’s model franchises.
“We still have to make sure that the league gives us that preseason game,” Rhule told reporters at the 2022 NFL Annual Meeting, as transcribed by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “But I think any time you have a chance to work against another team, it’s great. But especially that team. The way they do everything — their detail. And then running the ball against them; they’re physical up front, they have a really good defensive line. They have veteran players. They know how to practice. So, we’ll take it for kind of a road trip, a little bit of team bonding.
” … I’m excited about it. I think it will be good for our guys. … We’ve had conversations. So, if it all works out, which we’re expecting it will, I think it will be good, productive work.”
Joint practices, along with the ensuing preseason game, can be the most beneficial stretch of work as teams prepare for the regular season. Last summer’s sessions with the New York Giants helped then-Patriots rookie Mac Jones leapfrog Cam Newton to seize control of the starting quarterback job. Newton missed the first two practices of the week after violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players.
The Panthers are coming off a disappointing season in which they finished 5-12 and missed the postseason for the fourth consecutive campaign. New England, which also practiced against the Philadelphia Eagles last preseason, went 10-7 before losing to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC wild-card round.