FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of hot topics coming out of the New England Patriots training camp:
Tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed the obvious -- while he might have been cleared to play from a medical perspective, he's still not 100 percent and is being managed from a football standpoint. That's why he's only taking part in individual drills at this point, while also putting in some extra time after practice with quarterback Tom Brady. Gronkowski, in his own unique way, also explained how he doesn't plan to change his style of play by saying, "I'm going to keep smashing and dashing everything I do."
A big part of football is seizing opportunity and second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins is doing just that. He's taking repetitions that likely would have been Aaron Dobson's and making plays that catch the eye. For the second day in a row, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Thompkins made a diving touchdown catch and he appears to be practicing with a lot of confidence. He runs precise routes, and most importantly, Brady has developed trust in him. That's not easy to do. They don't give out gold stars after two days of training camp, but Thompkins would be close to the front of the line if they did.
The Patriots scored 36 touchdowns in 65 red zone trips last season, a 55.4 percent success rate. Compare that to the Broncos, who scored 51 touchdowns in 67 red zone possessions in 2013 for a 76.1 percent success rate. Maybe that is part of the reason why the Patriots have spent a significant portion of their first two training camp practices with red zone work.
One of the nice parts of the day was witnessing the admiration that owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and Brady retain for former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. With Bruschi at practice as part of a live ESPN set with Hannah Storm, all three made time to visit the set, and other players stopped by as well. At one point, Belichick and Bruschi watched practice together, the "perfect Patriot" back with his coach again.
The Patriots announced an official attendance of 11,012. With 7,822 showing up for the first practice Thursday, that's a two-day total of 18,834. Think the locals are excited to have football back? With full-pads practices scheduled for Saturday and Sunday morning, and a promosing Saturday weather forecast, the fields behind Gillette Stadium should once again be overflowing with fans.