The NFL released the first part of the league schedule on Thursday, announcing the preseason opponents for all 32 clubs, as well as which week they’ll be played.
New England will play at Philadelphia, against the Buccaneers, at Detroit, and against the Giants.
Only the date of the Tampa Bay game (Aug. 16) is known since it will be nationally televised (Fox, 8 p.m.). The dates for the other three games will be announced at a later date.
If this year’s exhibition schedule looks familiar, it should: last year the Patriots also played the Eagles, Buccaneers, and Giants; in 2011, they faced Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the Giants.
This is the ninth straight year the Patriots will close out the preseason against New York.
It will be interesting to see if New England continues its recent trend of holding joint practices with one or two clubs. The head coaches for all of the teams have a connection to Bill Belichick, which would certainly facilitate the sides planning some shared practice time.
First-year Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly is a New Hampshire native (and UNH product) and someone Belichick has spent time with. Kelly has attended some Patriots practices and Belichick has consulted with Kelly about his up-tempo offense at Oregon.
The Patriots held joint practices with the Buccaneers last summer in Tampa, the first season under former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Belichick’s son, Stephen, played lacrosse and also spent a year as a long snapper when he attended Rutgers, and Belichick and Schiano have maintained a relationship.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz got his NFL start as a personnel scout on Belichick’s Cleveland staff from 1993-95.
Last year New England held joint practices with New Orleans in Foxborough, as well as with Tampa Bay. The team did the same with the Saints and Falcons in 2010, but did not have any in 2011 because of the lockout.
It is expected the NFL will release the 2013 regular-season schedule via an NFL Network show April 16.
Combine probe reveals nothing
The NFL found no ‘‘specific violations’’ in questions teams asked college players at February’s scouting combine.
Colorado tight end Nick Kasa and other players said they were asked about their sexual orientation, but did not identify which teams or what questions they asked. The NFL’s investigation found no such improper questioning.
‘‘Our review has not established any specific violations,’’ NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday, ‘‘but we have made it clear to our clubs what is acceptable when interviewing potential players and other job candidates.’’
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell also said they were asked about their sexual orientation during an informal period at the combine when the players met with most of the 32 clubs.
Hanson retires after 21 years
Jason Hanson wanted to keep on kicking. His body told him to stop.
The 42-year-old Lions kicker announced his decision to retire after 21 seasons. He said he thought about returning, but problems with his heel prompted him to call it a career.
Hanson became the first player to play 300 games with one franchise, finishing with 327. He also set an NFL record last year when he played his 21st season with the same team.
Hanson made a record 52 field goals from at least 50 yards. He’s third on the career scoring list (2,150 points) and third in field goals (495). Hanson is the only player with 2,000 points for one franchise.
Cap forces Falcons to cut Clabo
The Falcons released longtime starting tackle Tyson Clabo, with the move effective after June 1. Clabo started all 101 games he played for the Falcons, including 16 games in each of the last five seasons at right tackle. The team will save about $4.5 million in salary with the move. Atlanta had less than $2 million in salary cap space heading toward the draft . . . The Ravens terminated the contract of reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a three-time Pro Bowler on special teams. Ayanbadejo, 36, has played 10 seasons in the NFL, the last five with Baltimore . . . The Giants signed Mike Patterson, who spent the previous eight seasons with the Eagles. Patterson joins fellow defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who also was cut in February, in moving from the Eagles to the Giants. Patterson underwent brain surgery in January 2012, but returned to the Eagles for five games last season. He was diagnosed with a brain malformation in August 2012.