Patriots schedule 2021: Potential joint practice partners revealed

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Patriots could have unique joint practice setup this preseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

A return to "normalcy" this summer and fall could mean the return of a Bill Belichick favorite in New England: joint practices.

The Patriots have participated in joint practices nearly every year for the past decade, as Belichick views the sessions as a great opportunity to get reps against another team and scout players his team may want to sign in the future.

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COVID-19 squashed any opportunity for joint practices last year, but it sounds like New England could bring the tradition back during a preseason that includes matchups with the Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. From ESPN's Mike Reiss:

"The Patriots have known their opponents for some time, and if everything comes together with COVID-19 considerations, joint practices with the Eagles and Giants could be finalized.

"One possibility discussed, but is not official at this point, is having the Patriots-Giants practices in Foxborough, even though the game will be played in East Rutherford, N.J."

The Patriots held joint practices with Chip Kelly's Eagles back in 2013, and those sessions could be intriguing with first-year head coach Nick Sirianni, quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver DeVonta Smith in Philly. Former Eagles Nelson Agholor and Jalen Mills also would go up against their old club.

A Patriots-Giants joint practice would reunite Belichick and New York head coach Joe Judge, who spent eight years as an assistant in New England. The Giants traveling to Foxboro before hosting the Patriots in New York would be a unique situation, but if the Pats are traveling to Philly for those sessions, it makes sense why they'd want to practice in New England the following week.

Here's a refresher of the Patriots' preseason schedule, with joint practices potentially taking up the final two weeks before the regular season:

vs. Washington Football Team

Thursday, Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m. ET

at Philadelphia Eagles

Thursday, Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET

at New York Giants

Sunday, Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET