|Mike Petraglia breaks down Day 1 of Patriots-Redskins practices in Richmond||08.04.14 at 5:46 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia assesses Day 1 of Patriots-Redskins practices, including the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski and the performance of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett in Monday drills.
|Monday Patriots practice report: No Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Bolden as Pats D steps it up against RGIII||at 11:59 am ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — The Patriots and Redskins began their 2 1/2-hour initial scrimmage Monday morning under cloudy skies but by the time the haze burned off, it was a sunny, warm day with temperatures in the upper 70s.
The conditions expect to be much more intense Tuesday as the two teams will scrimmage again in the heat of the mid-afternoon here in Richmond.
Rob Gronkowski was not on the field as he continues to work his way back into full practice mode. To this point, the tight end has only been taking part in walk-through reps and individual passing drills in full pads.
Other Patriots players not taking part in the practice were special teams captain Matthew Slater, receiver Aaron Dobson, running back Brandon Bolden and center Bryan Stork.
Here are some quick observations from practice:
Tom Brady overthrew Kenbrell Thompkins on the first play of full 11-on-11 scrimmage. The pass was a route over the middle and Thompkins attempted to climb the ladder and would’ve been hit hard by the cornerback if it were in game conditions. Brady then was nearly perfect on the next three passes, two to Julian Edelman and one to Danny Amendola, as Edelman worked on D’Angelo Hall.
Brady felt heavy pressure in the pocket on the next series and stepped up and threw a bomb to wide-open Thompkins, who ran a post pattern.
Ryan Mallett continued to struggle badly with consistency. He made one sharp touch pass on a sideline pattern to Shane Vereen and an accurate pass over the middle to Justin Jones, but he threw two interceptions and overthrew Brandon LaFell on two other passes.
Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo also saw time against Redskins backups as he ran the second-team offense. He connected with D.J. Williams on one pass over the middle and found Brian Tyms down the right sideline in 7-on-7 drills.
|Rob Gronkowski isn’t worried about targeting on his right knee: ‘I’m not more conscious about it’||07.29.14 at 11:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has heard the rumblings that his surgically repaired right knee could be a target this season.
But he’s heard those rumblings before, even before his right knee was assaulted by a hit from Cleveland’s T.J. Ward last December.
“It’s the NFL,” Gronkowski said. “You’re hitting every single play, every single down. You an be hit anywhere. So, you just have to be aware of who’s coming at you, where they’re coming at you, you have to make your move, dive, get out of the way, you have to put your shoulder down. Whatever it is, you have to be prepared for anything. It’s the NFL. Everyone’s big, everyone’s fast and everyone can hit.
“Everyone knows that if you’re catching the ball, you can lit up at any time. Up the middle, anywhere, a guy coming from anywhere. You just have to make the play by looking at the guys around you.
“I’m not more conscious about it. Just go out there and do what I do and just basically try to make some plays and just get to the point where I’m not thinking about anything, and just out there and keep on rolling.”
Gronkowski practiced again in pads on Tuesday but was held out again from full 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, instead continuing his work on individual drills, including red zone work with Tom Brady as Bill Belichick looked on closely. Gronkowski said he is really looking forward to the day when he can fully participate again in practice.
|Rob Gronkowski on catching passes from Tom Brady: ‘It’s a dream come true again’||07.25.14 at 5:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has been through a lot of pain and misery over the last three seasons. Bum ankle, back surgery, forearm surgery, ACL surgery.
And those are just the major injuries the most popular target of Tom Brady has endured. That’s why he’s taking his time and being measured about his rehab, working closely with Patriots trainers to make sure that he’s a full go when he returns to game action, either in the preseason or – as he hopes – by the Sept. 7 opener in Miami.
But while he can’t take part in full 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills as training camp opens, he can run individual drills and work on his routes, especially where he’s most dangerous – in the red zone. Gronkowski has been running – and cutting – on the surgically repaired right knee without any noticeable limp, a good sign as he works his way back. He did it again on Friday, catching several red zone passes from Brady, as Bill Belichick looked on.
“It’s feeling good out there running routes and getting balls thrown [to me], and it feels great being out there with my teammates again, being in the huddle, catching balls from Tom Brady. It’s a dream come true again. It feels like it got taken away, and now it feels like I’ve got it back so it’s awesome.”
He even stood behind center and lobbed one to Brady.
“Yeah, we were just having fun,” Gronk said. “Maybe we’ll put that in after that throw. It wasn’t a spiral, but I’ve got to work on that.”
Gronkowski not only is sporting a black sleeve/brace on his right knee, he is still wearing a protective sleeve on his left forearm.
“I’m used to the arm brace,” Gronkowski said. “It’s been a year now wearing that, so it’s secondhand having that on. The knee brace just started, but it’s the second day out there, and I’m already getting comfortable with everything.”
After what’s he went through with the forearm going into the 2013 season, it’s natural to think Gronkowski will be more cautious. There have even been suggestions that the team (i.e. Bill Belichick) is sending a loud message that by being cleared for practice, they expect him ready once the season starts in South Florida. Does Gronk sense this?
“No, I don’t feel any pressure at all about that,” Gronkowski said. “I worked my butt off the last six months to even be here right now at training camp, throwing with all of my teammates. I made sure I was in there every single day, rehabbing every single day so I could come out here and be running routes on Day One. So it feels great to be out here on that note.
“If I’m just working hard every single day, improving every single day, giving it all I’ve got, listening to the trainers, listening to the coaches to get myself prepared, to get myself ready ‘ that’s all I can ask for. I’m putting pressure on myself to improve every single day and work hard every single day.”
Gronkowski said it’s a realistic goal to be ready for Week 1 against the Dolphins.
“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game,” he said. “I can’t say anything from here on out because it’s far away. So, every single day I’m just giving it all I’ve got in the rehab room, out here on the field, improve my knee, strengthen it all around, prepare myself, listen to my trainers what they have for me so I’m ready to go when it comes down to it. And hopefully I am.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on the ‘fearless’ Rob Gronkowski and potential greatness of Patriots secondary||at 4:56 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news of the day from Day 2 of Patriots training camp 2014, including Rob Gronkowski speaking to reporters for the first time since being cleared for training camp practice. Gronkowski acknowledged that he is not 100 percent but promises to be fearless, adopting a “smashing and dashing” attitude when he is cleared for game action. Petraglia and Price also discuss the potential of the current Patriots’ secondary to rank among the best in team history and those coached by Bill Belichick.
|Rob Gronkowski says he’s ready to make a fearless return: ‘I’m going to keep smashing and dashing’||at 1:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Gronk was back in rare form Friday.
Rob Gronkowski held court on a sunny Friday morning after his second practice of training camp, announcing that he plans to make a fearless return to the field this season and put a string of injuries behind him. The most recent, of course, came on Dec. 8, 2013 when T.J. Ward drilled him in the right knee, causing a tear of his ACL and a subsequent knee reconstruction.
Gronkowski said that, while he won’t likely participate fully when he puts on pads with the rest of his teammates Saturday, he will be prepared mentally for the first game, whenever that comes.
“I’m pretty sure I won’t have any fear at that moment because that’s what we’re working here for, getting myself right, getting my knee right, getting everything strengthened around it so when I do hit the field, when I do start hitting, when I do start getting tackled, I’m out there ready to go [and] I’m not thinking about that in the back of my head,” Gronkowski said. “It’s a slow progression. I’m just working every single week to get to that progression, and hopefully and it comes down to where I’m ready and I’m ready to roll and I’m good to go and I’m out there for my teammates. I want to be out there for my teammates and give it all I got and make some plays for them.”
As for being at full strength, Gronkowski cautioned that there is still plenty of work remaining before that hurdle is cleared.
“If it were 100 percent, I’d be doing every single thing so no, I’m not 100 percent right now, obviously not,” Gronkowski said. “I’m working my way to get to that and I’m working every single day to get to that and improving every single day.
“I’m preparing myself to my max ability right now for the first regular game. I can’t really say anything from here on out because it’s far away. Every single day, I’m just giving it everything I’ve got in the rehab room and out here on the field. I’m preparing myself and listening to my trainers, what they have for me so that I’m ready to go when it comes down to it. Hopefully, I am.
“No timetable at all. Just keep improving every single day and we’ll see what the trainers want me to do. They’ve been through plenty of knee injuries throughout their years here.”
If you think he plans to change his style in light of ankle, back, forearm and knee injuries that have knocked him out of 17 of his last 26 games since 2012, think again.
“Nah, I ain’t changing that one bit,” Gronkowski said. “I’m going to go full speed when I’m out there and I’m going to keep smashing and dashing in everything I do. Maybe if it’s not necessary one single bit I’ll go down [to the ground]. But if I can make some plays and make some extra yards and get in the end zone, I’m definitely going to go full speed and do everything I can.”
|Tom Brady pumps up Kenbrell Thompkins and pumps the brakes on Rob Gronkowski||07.24.14 at 5:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady had his favorite target back on the field on Thursday for the first day of Patriots camp.
But Rob Gronkowski was limited to cutting drills and catching passes in the red zone from Brady. Gronkowski ran several short patterns alongside Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola but was just an observer during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In other words, it wasn’t the “Full Gronkowski.”
That didn’t disappoint Brady too much. As a matter of fact it reminded him of the need to rely on others in the passing game.
“We’re always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there,” Brady said. “If he’s not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that’s a lesson that we’ve learned. You’ve got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You’ve got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up.
“But you’ve got to prepare for both. We’ve had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven’t, but I don’t think the expectations have changed. You’ve still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.”
Still, with Gronk on the grass fields, there was a certain electricity in the air.
“The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we’re going to be,” Brady said. “Everyone is working with whatever situation they’re in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It’s the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it’s just shorts and t-shirts and you’re throwing the ball, it’s about a quarter of the game. So we’re going to see what we’re made of, and we’ve got a lot of big tests ahead.”
That first big test is this weekend when the team gets into full pads for the first time. Next up, are the full scrimmages with the Redskins down in Richmond, Virginia prior to the preseason opener Aug. 7 at FedEx Field.
2014 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2014 NFL DRAFT
Latest from Bleacher Report
- How Big of an Impact Will Easley Make for Pats?
- Patriots' Top Offseason Moves
- Assessing Every Patriots UDFA's Chances of Making the Roster
- Projecting Patriots' Roster Battles This Offseason
- Ranking Pats' Remaining Offseason Priorities
- Early Projections for Patriots' Final 53-Man Roster
- In-Depth Look at Each Pats Draft Pick