Bill Belichick was pleased with the Patriots’ effort in their 42-35 preseason win over the Eagles, and sounded very happy with what he saw in the days leading up it, when New England and Philadelphia practiced together.
“I thought we had a real good week of practice with the Eagles — it was really valuable for the progress of our team,” Belichick said during a Saturday conference call. “The practices and the game combined, I would say probably were as productive as any week we’ve had with any team in training camp since we’ve been doing this.”
The sessions with Philadelphia marked the sixth time since 2012 the Patriots have shared the field with another team during training camp; the two clubs also worked together last year, Chip Kelly’s first as head coach of the Eagles.
“Coach Kelly and his staff and the Eagles and their players, it was a real good working environment that was productive and competitive, but not over the top where anybody was really put at any unnecessary risk or any type of after the whistle or cheap shots or anything like that. It was really good.”
Belichick was asked about Jordan Devey, who started at right guard in both preseason games. The offensive line has been in flux throughout camp, but seeing Devey starting and not Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline or rookie Jon Halapio has been a bit of a surprise.
“I think he’s improved a lot from last year,” which he spent on the practice squad, Belichick said. “He’s had a good offseason; he’s worked really hard.
“He’s a smart guy. His fundamentals have improved. His strength is better. His offseason program was very productive. [Strength and conditioning coaches] Harold Nash and Moses [Cabrera], he was really able to take advantage of that and put himself in a very competitive position. He got a lot of snaps last night.”
Over the game and the week of practices, Belichick said the coaching staff tried to give all of the offensive line players as many opportunities as possible. He called it a competitive group, and there will be some tough decisions to make when it comes time to pare the roster.
On Stevan Ridley, who was benched after fumbling in the second quarter — the ball was recovered by teammate James Develin — Belichick agreed that it was close in terms of whether Ridley’s knee was down when the ball came out, which would have negated the fumble. But fumble or not, Ridley lost the ball.
“We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There’s nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that’s always a high priority for us,” Belichick said. “We never want the ball out, and on the other side of the ball, defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out.
“Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don’t recover it, or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead, but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball. We don’t want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they’re ruled in our favor or not.
“Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it, or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we’re trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. Same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don’t get them all, but the more we get them out, the more we’ll get, so they are significant.”
The Patriots have Sunday off and will be back on the practice field Monday afternoon. That practice, scheduled for 2 p.m., is open to the public. When the weather forecast forced the Patriots to close last Wednesday’s practice to the public, the team decided to open up Monday’s practice.Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.