This week the Titans and Bucs will hold joint practices. Now, just in case preseason just isn’t your thing, let me fill you in on one of the more popular things going on in the NFL. What are joint practices? Well, I’m sure glad that you asked! Joint practices are when two teams are literally practicing together. This helps with competition, formations, the overall speed of the game and much more. However, as with most things, some negatives can come as a result.
Why would opposing teams want to hold a joint practice? To be honest, it’s a no-brainer, and more teams should start doing it. In the preseason, it can sometimes be challenging for coaches to evaluate their team’s talent. Day in and day out you have your own offense going against your own defense. How can you establish if you have a good offense, lousy defense; Or maybe you have a good defense and a horrible offense? Having a joint practice can help clear that up. Letting Mariota go up against the Bucs defense will help allow Vrabel and LeFleur better evaluate the offense so far.
For rookies, getting to participate in these joint sessions can really help them adjust to NFL speed. There’s an understanding that the speed of play in the NFL and NCAA is entirely different. The sooner rookies can adapt to this, the quicker they can make an impact with their respected teams.
Competition is a big plus as everyone knows that competition brings out more in a player. Going up against the same players every day can get stale. Joint practices can re-energize an entire team with something fresh. Along with competitions comes situational plays such as red zone offense. Since starters don’t typically play much in the preseason, they may not have an opportunity to practice red zone offense/defense in a game.
Look, it’s the preseason, but that doesn’t mean coaches aren’t thinking about plays they don’t want to share yet. When you gameplan, you want to be able to have plays that other teams don’t have film on. So while you have these joint practices, how vanilla are they going to be? How much would you really gain from having a basic practice with another team? I still think it’s beneficial, but it’s still worth pointing out.
As with any kind of sport, injuries will obviously be a reason for concern as well. With increased intensity and competition comes a more significant risk for injury. Is getting a leg up in the preseason worth further risking your star players? Probably not, but injuries are going to happen whether you have joint practices or not. Injuries are arguably uncontrollable, very few players in any sport have been able to entirely avoid injuries.
The worst part of joint practices is when it gets a little too physical. Just earlier today DeAndre Hopkins and Jimmie Ward got into a fistfight. Last year Keenan Allen and Nickell Robey-Coleman got into it. Just earlier this week there was a fight during the Redskins and Jets joint practice. It’s just a thing that happens, it’s hot outside, tensions are high as no one actually wants to be there. That’s not making an excuse for their actions, it’s just speaking the truth. This type of scenario is obviously the biggest knock against joint practices. Every year there is at least one fight that breaks out which instantly calls for the “Why do we have joint practices” narrative to rear its ugly head.
Joint practices provide enough benefits to continue to be held. It should go without saying but just keep your cool. You gain nothing from fighting another team, no one is going to be proud that you punched a dude during a preseason practice. Grow up and strive to be a better player. Show the rookies how to act and help them grow. Joint practices have a place in the NFL, let’s hope they are here to stay.