After not doing joint practices for a decade, the Detroit Lions have started to embrace the idea of working with others during the preseason since Bob Quinn took over as general manager.
After having workouts with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016, the Lions are now having two separate joint practices in 2017 -- traveling to Indianapolis to train with the Colts for two days prior to the preseason opener and now hosting New England for a workout prior to the third preseason game. The Patriots will have joint practices with Jacksonville and Houston in addition to the Lions.
The Lions confirmed the workout will be a joint walkthrough closed to the pulblic the day before the teams' third preseason game.
"It's always give and take," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said last year about joint practices. "Any time you go on with a joint practice you kind of look at the things you do in terms of period-wise, so forth, and structure it. We'll meet with them, talk with them ...
"But the real object is no different than our practices that we have here. The great thing is now we get a chance to work against someone who hasn't been watching your scheme the entire time."
There is a large sense of familiarity with this year's group of joint practices. Caldwell will have a mini-homecoming when he returns to Indianapolis for two days of work on Aug. 10 and 11 after coaching the Colts as either an assistant or head coach for a decade.
The New England ties are well-known. Lions general manager Bob Quinn spent his entire career learning under Bill Belichick before taking the Detroit GM gig in January 2016. Quinn has often said how much of an influence Belichick was on his career and told ESPN last year he'll still have conversations with him for advice and asks himself what Belichick would do in certain situations.
Since being hired by the Lions, Quinn has lived with the mantra "Don't try to be Bill," as in Belichick. But he took a lot of influences from New England, from some staffing including chief of staff Kevin Anderson and his top personnel lieutenant, Kyle O'Brien, from his time in New England. He also brought Belichick's thoroughness to the draft and a similar grading scale from New England to Detroit.
One of the biggest pieces of advice Quinn received from Belichick came when he told him he was accepting the job in Detroit. Belichick had already given his blessing for Quinn to take the job and the two spent over an hour chatting about the job and about life.
"I accepted the Lions job at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. His assistant said he was in the weight room on the treadmill," Quinn told ESPN last year. "I went down there and he turned the treadmill down and he walked really slow and we just sat there and had a conversation for well over an hour about everything. The river just unloaded.
"I wish I had a tape recorder. I didn't even have a piece of paper with me, so I was just trying to remember everything. People don't know. They don't see that guy on the treadmill. They see the guy in front of the press podium. One of the things Bill said to me was, 'Don't try to be me, try to be yourself.'"
Now, the mentor will see at least some of the work his former employee has done first-hand in Allen Park next month.