One of football’s great aphorisms says the Bears will be happy to hit someone other than their own teammates their week. The reality — the benefit of practices against another team — isn’t about physicality as much as it is everything else.
“You get to see different looks, different players, different pass rush moves, different run schemes,” guard Kyle Long said.
That they’re coming from the NFL’s only present-day dynasty doesn’t hurt, either. The Bears will practice against the Patriots at their Foxborough, Mass., facility Monday through Wednesday before Thursday’s exhibition game at Gillette Stadium.
Coach John Fox likes that the team gets to practice the practical planning of a long road trip, and that his players can learn to spot tendencies over four days against once-unfamiliar opponents.
“You get to see some different looks,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “Go against a different competitor. So there are a lot of benefits. You go against a really well coached team over there.
“They give us an idea of, really, where we’re at.”
Since 2001, the Patriots have won four Super Bowls, lost two more and missed the playoffs only twice.
“We all know, perennially, they’re one of the better teams in the league,” Long said. “And it’s always good to go practice against somebody like that.”
The Bears will be tested this preseason. They lost their exhibition opener, 22-0, to the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos. Their all-important third preseason game is at home against the Chiefs, who won a playoff game last year.
“It’s a pretty good test out of the blocks —one we welcome,” Fox said. “We get time to get better before we go to Houston (for the season opener).”
They’ll practice against Tom Brady — though he’s suspended for the first four regular season games because of “Deflategate” — as well as star tight end Rob Gronkowski and his new running mate, former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett.
“They have great players, great tight ends, great receivers,” linebacker Christian Jones said. “Everybody knows about the quarterback. It’s going to be exciting for our defense to match up against them and see where we’re at.”
Last year, the Bears found great benefit in a similar trip to Indianapolis that ended with a 23-11 victory.
Receiver Kevin White missed that trip because of an injury, but is excited for his chance this week.
“Just going against another opponent, learning from it,” he said. “Getting better and competing.”