Bill Belichick’s team had a chance to battle some of the best in the game this week. (FILE:USPresswire)

After what was a “chippy” week involving fights and altercations between their own players, having the Saints in for joint practice sessions seemed to be just what New England needed this week as they get ready for their first exhibition game.

It was good for both sides, with both the offense and the defense getting a chance to get some work in against someone other than their own teammates. Even better was the fact that these are two of the top teams in football with two of the most explosive offenses, and head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged yesterday that it was a good opportunity for his young defense to be challenged.

“Our defense gets challenged every day in practice,” Belichick told reporters after Tuesday’s session. “Look at what New Orleans did last year and they have kind of those 11 players back – setting NFL records and passing yardage and Drew in completion percentage and all that. [They’re] the top scoring offense in the league, [they] move the ball. It’s a big challenge playing against that group.

“They’re different – they do different things than what we do and they’re very good at it. It’s good for our defense to see the best and compete against the best.”

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork also spoke to the media and echoed that sentiment, telling reporters that battling against the Saints will definitely make them better as they continue getting ready for the start of the 2012 campaign.

“That’s just a good football team,” said Wilfork. “Offensively they’re very, very, very good. Going against them, seeing [Tom] Brady and now [Drew] Brees, it’s tough matchups for this defense, but they can make us better and that’s what we’re looking for: to be better as a defense and hopefully we can help this ball club win some ball games this year.”