BOSTON (CBS) — The last two weeks have been anything but normal for the New England Patriots. With the team dealing with a slew of positive COVID-19 tests since the start of the month, it has thrown their schedule into disarray — both from a season standpoint and in terms of time on the practice field.
But there is some hope that Week 7 will be a lot more “normal” for the Patriots.
“We’ll practice this afternoon,” head coach Bill Belichick told reporters during his Wednesday morning video conference.
That’s certainly a good start. The team has not had any additional positive tests since last week, so at the moment, it doesn’t look like they’ll have to rely on virtual meetings this week. That can change in a hurry, but the team is set to hold an in-person practice shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday as they begin on-field preparations for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Patriots have only held one actual practice over the last two weeks, and that lack of in-person prep work showed in the team’s 18-12 loss to the Broncos last Sunday. Timing was off for just about everyone on the offensive side of the ball, especially quarterback Cam Newton, who did not look comfortable in the pocket after spending two weeks on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
Players didn’t want to use the lack of practice time as an excuse for their poor showing against Denver, but Belichick has been very quick to point out that the team needs that time to fine-tune the basics of the game. He did so again Wednesday morning.
“We need more practice time on the field than we’ve had recently. That will hopefully start today. That will be good for all of us to work on awareness, anticipation and so forth,” said Belichick. “In the passing game — quarterbacks, receivers, backs, tight ends — there is a lot of that. We need it on defense as well with defensive recognition. We’re all, I won’t say starting over, but we need a lot of work on that. We need to do more on the field. Hopefully we can do that this week.”
The Patriots dropped to 2-3 with Sunday’s loss, and now have to face a talented San Francisco team on Sunday.
“Obviously this is a quality football team and quality organization,” said Belichick. “Good mix of talent and players. Very well coached. They keep putting pressure on opponents in a variety of ways with the scheme and what they do, utilizing their personal very, very effectively.”
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-49ers clash on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!