Joint practices during NFL training camps have become common in recent years. In the days leading up to a preseason game, teams facing off will often organize practices and/or a scrimmage against their opponent, with fans invited to check out the action. But are joint practices good? Are they bad? Are they irrelevant? Let’s take a look at some of the action that’s taken place during the joint practices so far this summer.
One of the toughest parts of training camp is gauging how good your team is when the offense is beating up the defense and the defense is beating up the offense. Maybe your defense only looks good everyday because your offense is bad.
When you bring in another team and aren’t just practicing against your own teammates, it increases the level of competition and makes practice into a more realistic scenario. Is the offense as good when going up a defense it isn’t familiar with? Can the defense still make plays at the same rate when it’s not used to the offensive play calls? It’s a very different thing to go up against your own teammate and to go up against guys you aren’t as familiar with and haven’t played against in months, years, or ever before.
The Giants and Lions are currently holding joint practices and one person who that may be particularly helpful for is rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who is looking to push his way up the depth chart. Lauletta didn’t play particularly well in the first joint practice, but going up against the Lions’ defense is a great opportunity for him to face unfamiliar competition and continue to learn.
On a positive note for the Giants, it’s one thing for the coaches to say the offensive and defensive lineman are impressing when facing each other, and it’s another thing entirely when a Lions writer says the Giants dominated the trenches during the first joint practice.
The Bears and Broncos are also having joint practices this week so linebacker Roquan Smith, fresh off becoming the final rookie draft pick to sign an NFL contract, will immediately be thrown into action against a team other than his own.
How much of your playbook and practice secrets do you want to give away to another team? Joint practices allow for an opposing team to gain insight that they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
A bigger negative to joint practices is potential injuries that come with increased competition and aggression. Then-Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in a joint practice with the Dolphins and former NFL safety Louis Delmas tore a ligament in his knee in that same week of joint practices. Could the injuries have happened if the practice wasn’t with another team? Sure. But, it’s safe to say many joint practices see the competition kicked up a notch, which in turn could lead to more injuries.
Lions starting center Graham Glasgow went down with an injury during their joint practice with the Giants on Tuesday.
What’s also common at these joint practices is for tensions to rise and fights to break out. Many were expecting it to happen when the Ravens and Rams met last week (as now-Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree and now-Rams cornerback Aqib Talib have beef spanning the last two NFL seasons) but it was a drama-free week at Ravens training camp.
Some — including Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor himself — feared what could happen when Pryor met back up with his former teammates in a Washington-Jets joint practice this week.
”If they take dirty shots, I’m sure we’ll handle that accordingly,” Pryor said prior to the joint practices via NJ.com. ”You start trying to make it an individual thing, it takes away from our team. I don’t want to individualize myself.”
There was the big Sunday on fight, though that didn’t relate to the receiver. And then on Tuesday, Washington safety Montae Nicholson beat Pryor on a rep and safety D.J. Swearinger had some words with Pryor after the play — and made it look like he was about to take a swing at his former teammate.
The incident with Pryor didn’t spark an actual fight, but it’s an example of something you’d be far less likely to see between teammates.
There’s a lot that can be achieved via joint practices, which is why teams have continued to utilize them since the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement was agreed to in 2011, and the good seems to outweigh the bad in almost all situations.
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