The Bucs used two joint practices against the Patriots to their advantage in beating New England, 30-28, in the third preseason game a year ago. Tampa Bay will once again be practicing with New England and hoping to gain useful knowledge about an opponent in will face both in the preseason and in Week 3 of the regular season.
The friendship between Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano and New England head coach Bill Belichick led to the Buccaneers and Patriots holding joint practices at One Buccaneer Place last August prior to the third preseason game between the two teams.
The two teams have agreed to practice against each other in 2013 in Foxborough, Mass. on August 13-14 prior to the Bucs vs. Patriots preseason clash in New England on August 16. That game will air nationally on Fox.
Some members of the young Bucs team credited practicing against a playoff-tested squad like the Tom Brady-led Patriots helped them win the game and gain confidence for the 2012 season.
“I had a star-struck moment – it was against Tom Brady,” said Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson. “It helped with the fact that we practiced against him and the Patriots during the week, but when it came to game time, I was like, ‘That’s still Tom Brady!’ I started that game also, so it was crazy.”
The Bucs prevailed, beating the Patriots, 30-28, although the contest was not as close as the final score would indicate.
At Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay jumped out to a 23-7 lead in the first half against the Patriots starters, and the score was 30-14 at one point in the third quarter. Brady was sacked twice by the Bucs defenders Adam Hayward and Michael Bennettt, and also had an interception that was returned for a touchdown by rookie safety Mark Barron, the seventh overall draft pick in 2012.
In terms of preparation, the Buccaneers’ preseason game against the Patriots this year might be even more important because the team will return to New England during Week 3 of the regular season on September 22. While the Patriots will undoubtedly use a vanilla game plan against the Bucs on August 16 and save their best plays for the game that counts five weeks later, at least Tampa Bay can better learn New England’s personnel and get a feel for the offensive and defensive schemes with two days worth of practice and a preseason game.
Practicing and playing against Brady and the Patriots once again will hopefully pay dividends for young players like cornerback Johnthan Banks and other rookies the way it did for Johnson last season.
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