The Patriots sat out league-high 40 players in their preseason opener because of joint practices

Mary Schwalm | AP Photo

Are joint practices the next big thing?

Now that the first week of the 2017 NFL preseason has come to a close, it was reported that the New England Patriots sat out a league-high 40 players in their first exhibition game; and joint practices are a major reason why.

“We played a lot of guys in practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Jacksonville, so a lot of guys that are going to play for us got a lot of reps,” Coach Bill Belichick said in a pregame interview on Thursday, “[This game] will give us a chance to look at some of those guys that didn’t get as many reps in practice, so we’ll try to balance that out.”

While the Patriots held out nearly half of their 90-man roster in the first preseason game, the league average number of players who sat out was only 13.9. The next most behind the Patriots were the Pittsburgh Steelers with 24 players out, Dallas Cowboys with 21 and Oakland Raiders with 20.

It is only week one of the preseason, but if it is any indication as for what’s to come – look for starters to get most of their reps during joint practices and newer, younger guys to get their spotlight in the exhibition games.

Belichick isn’t the only one holding joint practices to a higher standard, team president Jonathan Kraft spoke on the subject as well.

“They become a really great place for certain types of competition to take place in a controlled environment that you couldn’t do before in the preseason games,” he said to 98.5 The Sports Hub, “Now it allows other players and other situations to play out in the preseason games. These [joint practices] have become a great adjunct to the first few weeks of the preseason. I think it makes a big difference. It actually allows you to evaluate your talent in a way you couldn’t before. I think it is a real plus.”

The Patriots held practice this morning at Gillette Stadium. Then they head off to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where they will take part in practices with the Houston Texans on Tuesday and Wednesday at The Greenbrier. The teams will face off Saturday night in Houston.

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