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Thursday training camp notes: Rob Gronkowski returns to field, Kenbrell Thompkins looks impressive

07.24.14 at 11:55 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their first training camp workout of the summer Thursday morning, a session that ran for just under two hours under overcast skies. Players were in shells and shorts — pads can’t go on until the weekend — and so it was tough to glean too much from the practice. But here are a few quick notes.

— The following players were not on the field with their teammates: wide receiver Aaron Dobson, special teamer Matthew Slater, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Deontae Skinner, offensive lineman Chris Martin, defensive lineman Dominique Easley, wide receiver Jeremy Gallon and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly. (Essentially, everyone who was put on PUP earlier this week.) Easley, Dobson, Dennard and Kelly went through agility drills and were part of a group that left to work out on the lower practice fields shortly after practice began.

— It’s tough to get a handle on where guys are at this stage of the process — it was a relatively low-intensity workout without pads — but Rob Gronkowski had a sizable black brace/sleeve on his left arm. It’s early — and things could change as camp continues — but at this point, he looked as well as could be expected, moving without an issue. (It appeared that he was limited in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s toward the end of practice.)

Josh Boyce and Shane Vereen were taking reps at kick returner. Malcolm Butler, Brandon LaFell and James White also were getting turns at the position. However, Boyce appeared to get the majority of reps over the course of the morning.

— When it comes to depth chart at wide receiver, it was interesting to see that when quarterback Tom Brady went to the near practice field to work with some pass catchers, it was a group that included Gronkowski, Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, while Boyce and LaFell stayed and continued to get special teams work.

— Thompkins, who was wearing bright orange cleats, had a very nice morning. He was working with the starting offense throughout most of the session, and had a pair of really nice catches in 7-on-7 passing drills on the goal line, one from Brady and one from Jimmy Garoppolo. (It’s debatable how many opportunities he would have had if Dobson was on the field, but he certainly made the most of his chances on Thursday morning.)

Roy Finch, who was apparently activated off PUP, dropped a pass in the 7-on-7s. LaFell also had a drop in 11-on-11s late in practice.

— Butler picked off a ball from Garoppolo in the 7-on-7s, and linebacker Jerod Mayo knocked down a Brady pass for LaFell at the back of the end zone.

— Brady looked uneven at times — he missed on a throw with Gronkowski early on — but did connect on a nice ball for Thompkins in the corner of the end zone that drew ohhhs and ahhhhs from the capacity crowd. (He later zipped one to Gronkowski right over the middle, a crisp pass that sparked cheers.)

— Owner Robert Kraft strolled on the field midway through practice.

Read More: 2014 training camp,
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