Rutgers' Knights having their best days.

Author:Toland, Jennifer

Byline: Jennifer Toland

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's respect for Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is no secret. It became even more apparent when the Patriots drafted three of Schiano's former Rutgers players in this year's draft and signed four others during the offseason.

Belichick got to know Schiano through frequent visits to Rutgers, where Belichick's son, Steve, was a four-year member of the lacrosse team and played one year for Schiano, walking on to the Scarlet Knights' football team as a long snapper.

A friendship between Belichick and Schiano blossomed, and continued to flourish when Schiano became the Bucs' head coach last year.

Schiano's admiration for Belichick is obvious also.

"He's a big influence,'' Schiano said Tuesday after the Patriots and Bucs wrapped up the first of three joint practices on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. "I had the opportunity to visit here as a college coach and he would come to Rutgers just to talk football and see the game through his eyes and his visions, like anything else when you're around someone who is doing the things that you would like to do, you have an opportunity to learn. So I try to take advantage of it.''

The 47-year-old Schiano spent 11 seasons (2001-11) at Rutgers and rebuilt the program. The Scarlet Knights hadn't been to a bowl game since 1978, but in Schiano's last seven seasons, they went to six. Rutgers finished the 2006 season ranked 12th and Schiano garnered numerous national Coach of the Year honors.

The Bucs went 7-9 in Schiano's first year, but showed progress in all three phases and have hopes of more advancement in 2013.

"Really, everything (makes him a good coach),'' Belichick said of Schiano. "He develops players well. He has good schemes, he's a good football mind, evaluates talent well. I think he does everything well.''

This is the second straight year the Patriots and Bucs have conducted joint practices during training camp. The teams play a preseason game here at 8 p.m. Friday.

"We talked quite a bit about how we could make (the joint practices) better this year,'' Schiano said. "The staffs talked. All we're trying to do is get efficiency out of the practice. You only have so much time, so you hope to do it the very best that you can.''

The teams were on the field for about 2-1/2 hours in full pads. They'll do it again today. Schiano said there are many things he has gleaned from Belichick over the years, coaching points and how he runs training camp...

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