FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New England Patriots training camp:
Big news in the health department highlighted the day. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard took steps in their progression from offseason surgery, as both participated in 7-on-7 drills for the first time. Gronkowski wore a red non-contact jersey, while Dennard did not. Meanwhile, receiver Aaron Dobson was activated off the physically unable to perform list and 2014 first-round draft choice Dominique Easley was activated off the non-football-injury list.
For the second straight practice, No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett was not present at practice. It is unclear what is keeping Mallett sidelined, as he slid awkwardly in Thursday's preseason opener, but also took some big hits in the pocket. Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo has received extended reps in his absence the last two days.
After the Patriots made significant changes at tight end on Sunday -- releasing undrafted free-agents Justin Jones and Asa Watson and signing Ben Hartsock (11th year), Steve Maneri (3rd year) and Terrence Miller (rookie) -- and the three newcomers were in the media spotlight after Monday's practice. Said Hartsock: "It’s exciting to be part of this team because this team is the quintessential role-player team. You find a spot on this team and you see that’s how you win championships."
The Patriots dialed things back from a physical standpoint, practicing in light shoulder pads and shorts for just the fourth time since camp started. One reason for that decision could be tied to how the Philadelphia Eagles are coming for joint practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and Tuesday's session is scheduled for full pads. This was the 13th overall practice, as nine have been in full pads.
The Patriots and Eagles practice today at 2 p.m. ET. It is open to the public and admission is free.