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Patriots Training Camp Open For Business

Bill Belichick Training Camp

Patriots training camp opened up on Thursday with a magnificent crowd of over 15,000 fans looking to welcome the Super Bowl champs into the new season. The team didn’t appear to be resting on their laurels, coming out full speed from the very beginning.

Here are some key storylines from day one:

Rob Gronkowski is back and ready to go. He looked fantastic today, making a number of great plays in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. His presence on the field is a huge benefit for the New England offense, and his health is always a major storyline. An ankle injury in camp last year limited him for the first few weeks of the season

– The new guys began making an impact right off the bat. Brady connected with both Brandin Cooks and Rex Burkhead for touchdowns today, sparking loud cheers from the crowd. Their understanding and grasp of the offense will be critical to watch, particularly for running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. With so much depth at the position, they will need to know the offense backwards and forwards if they want to land a spot on the team.

– Rookie receiver Austin Carr had a fantastic catch that attracted a lot of attention today. While his chances of making the 53-man roster are slim due to the great receiver depth, impressive showings like today will keep him in the hunt.

– Rob Ninkovich was absent from practice today for personal reasons. This may be something to keep an eye on. At 34 years old with only one year left on his contract, some have speculated that he may be considering retirement. That would be a major blow to the Patriots defense.

– Malcolm Butler had a fantastic day on defense, playing aggressive and only giving up one contested pass to Julian Edleman. The arrival of Stephon Gilmore seems to have pushed Butler to prove that he’s the best cornerback on the team, and earn a big money contract after this season.

– Long snapper Joe Cardona was absent due to his Navy commitment. Shout out to him for his service, and looking forward to him rejoining the team.

– Injury report: Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch are starting the season off on the PUP list. That isn’t a huge concern with Branch. He is an older player, and this is more likely a cautionary move. It is slightly more concerning with Hightower. He is an immensely talented player, but has had serious problems staying on the field, which is why he did not receive as much interest as expected this past offseason. It’ll be interesting to see how long he remains sidelined to start training camp.

– Oh yeah, and at 40 years old, Tom Brady looks fantastic.

Until next time – B$

Brian Cole

Brian Cole

Author ProfootballTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine.com
Expert on all things Deflategate, and New England Patriots Writer for SportsTalkLine.com