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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick coaches against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The Bucs will stop here to play Patriots in preseason


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be quite familiar by the time they meet in the third game of the regular season.

The Patriots host Tampa Bay in a preseason game Friday night and the Buccaneers are coming to Foxborough early for a series of joint practices starting today.

The Patriots did the same thing last week in Philadelphia before opening the preseason with a 30-22 exhibition win over the Eagles.

New England coach Bill Belichick said Monday it was a good experience and provided a change from the routine innersquad scrimmages.

“I don’t think it’s any one thing. It’s a combination of working on our scheme against somebody else, seeing somebody else’s schemes, seeing the matchups, different matchups all the way across the board,” Belichick said. “We’ll see another good football team that obviously does things differently than we do and that will be good for us to see.”

Belichick said the Patriots will be going from facing the Eagles’ three-man defensive front to a four-man line with the Buccaneers. The Eagles’ offense is still a work in production under new coach and New Hampshire native Chip Kelly and Tampa Bay’s offense will also be quite different.

The joint practices are scheduled for today, Wednesday and Thursday. The game is Friday at 8 p.m. (Fox) in the second week of the preseason for both teams.

“We had a great working week with them last year. I hope for the same thing this year,” Belichick said.

After three days of practice followed by a preseason game, the Patriots and Buccaneers get about one month away from each other before New England visits Tampa Bay on Sept. 22. Unlike Friday, that game will count and will not be a quick night for the starting units followed by younger players in need of game experience and rookies trying to make the roster.

Belichick and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano are not likely to throw anything exotic into the practices or preseason game.

“I don’t think we can worry too much about that. I think we have to concentrate on moving ahead as a football team. We need to be a better football team at the end of the week,” Belichick said. “We’ll worry about the regular season game when that comes.”

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