FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots opened 2012 training camp Thursday afternoon with more than 12,000 spectators in attendance, which marks a single-session record, according to the team.
From a player standpoint, there were no surprises in terms of who was on the field. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was given a clean bill of health in his return from offseason ankle surgery (the crowd cheered on one connection with quarterback Tom Brady), while veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters was the notable absence, as he has not reported to the team.
NFL rules prohibit teams from full-contact practices on the first two days of camp, although some players appeared to be in full pads. Players had numbers on their jerseys, which was a change from the offseason when Bill Belichick had numberless practices in hopes of enhancing communication among players.
Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown, who will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame later this year, was a guest at practice. Owner Robert Kraft also watched from the sidelines.
Full observations to follow, after media interviews with receiver Wes Welker, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, among others.