TWENTYMAN: Why joint practices are beneficial for Lions

General manager Bob Quinn is a big believer in the benefits of joint practices during training camp. The Lions have taken part in joint practices in training camp the last few years in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Oakland. They also hosted the New York Giants last year. 

The Lions will once again participate in joint practices this year, hosting the New England Patriots prior to the teams' Preseason Week 1 matchup.

Head coach Matt Patricia has spoken in the past about the benefits of those practices and the terrific evaluation it gives the coaching staff and front office.

“There will be specific situations, a lot of it will be controlled,” Patricia said last year ahead of joint practices with the Raiders. “They’ll give us an opportunity to see a different opponent. They’ll give us an opportunity to see a different style of offense and defense.”

Joint practices also help break up the monotony of training camp. By about the third week of camp, players are pretty tired of going up against the same opponent and same scheme day after day. Joint practices offer players an opportunity to match up against a player with a different skillset in individual periods and against a different scheme in team periods.  

The element of having two NFL teams involved in practice usually increases the tempo and ramps up the competition. It’s a great evaluation tool for coaches to see how their players measure up against another team. It gives them a better gauge of where their team stands at that point in camp. 

It’s also good for the starters, who typically don’t see a lot of game action in the preseason until Week 3. For a player like quarterback Matthew Stafford, he gets a ton out of going against another defense in a controlled environment for two or three days. Those 7-on-7 and team periods are invaluable for him. 

“It’s good for us,” Stafford said after a joint practice last year in Oakland. “Our defense is a little bit different style than their defense is here in Oakland, so it’s good for our guys to have to adjust.

“In the grand scheme of things in a season, you’re going to play defenses that have a bunch of different personalities and a bunch of different styles. It’s nice for us to get a little bit of a taste for that.”

In these practice settings, coaches can control the situations they want to see or feel they need to work on. Red zone, blitz pickup, third-down situations, 9-on-7 and two-minute situations are all terrific reps to go through in a controlled environment of joint practice. 

“It’s fun for us to go out there and compete against other guys,” Stafford said in Oakland last year. “We have a full spring of competing against each other and then we come in to training camp and compete against each other for a couple weeks.

“It’s nice to kind of mix it up and go out there and see something new, see something fresh, go out there and see where we are.”

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