FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. It seems safe to say that the connection between Robert Kraft and Tom Brady is unlike most owner-quarterback relationships around the NFL. A reminder of this came in the classy gesture Kraft made a few months ago by sending a Super Bowl ring to Galynn Brady, the quarterback's mother, who underwent cancer treatments.
When I spoke to Brady about it after Friday's practice, his appreciation for Kraft's gesture was evident.
One of the themes of the Patriots' Super Bowl championship season, which was repeated by several coaches and players in the on-field celebration after the game, was a genuine feeling of love for each other. Kraft's gesture showed that started at the top.
2. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was booted from practice Tuesday after getting involved in a scuffle with receiver Julian Edelman (who was also ejected), but there are no lingering bad feelings. This is how Gilmore described it: "Once I'm on the field, there are no friends. But off the field, I respect everybody on the team, talk to them. It's nothing personal. Just when I'm on the field, it's super-competitive." Specific to facing Edelman regularly, he added: "He comes out and competes every day, so that's good that you have somebody that has the mentality you have."
3a. It was a small gesture, but it made an impression on me: Patriots rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise (fourth round, Arkansas) was surrounded by about 25 reporters last week, as he's been one of the surprise stories of training camp with his strong play, and as Wise fielded a flurry of questions, one reporter kept trying to ask a question but wasn't able to get it in. Finally, Wise said, "Excuse me" to the group, turned to the reporter and made sure the question could be asked. Haven't seen too many, if any, 23-year-old rookies with that type of presence and command in those situations. More importantly, he seems to be quickly earning the respect of coaches with his approach, as he's leaped ahead of Kony Ealy in terms of getting top-quality reps at Rob Ninkovich's former left-defensive end spot.
3b. The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Wise, by the way, wears a size-18 shoe. He said that's been his size since he attended Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas.
4. After a 2016 season during which he dealt with nagging injuries, Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater had to be frustrated Wednesday when he was forced to leave practice and appeared to be in significant discomfort, as he could hardly put one leg in front of the other after apparently pulling up. The severity of Slater's undisclosed ailment might have been tipped off when coach Bill Belichick visited him in the medical tent before Slater departed for the locker room, looking extremely stiff as he walked. Then, on Saturday when the team's injured players worked on the lower practice field, Slater was nowhere to be found. At this point, it looks to be the Patriots' most significant injury through the first nine practices of camp.
5. In his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech Saturday night, longtime Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor had a long list of thank-yous. They included Brady and Belichick, who fell into the category of "an admiration, given begrudgingly, as the highest respect" for opponents who forced Taylor to raise his game. Brady was the first opponent mentioned by Taylor, along with Peyton Manning. Then, of Belichick, Taylor said, "I never had the pleasure of playing for him, but I had the pleasure of facing his teams for twice a year for more than a decade. Bill, you put a target on my back, my front, my sides. And as a result of that, I never felt more respected." I always enjoyed watching Taylor play and listening to him speak.
6. Some Patriots season-ticket holders were buzzing over the past week after receiving their 2017 tickets, which were delivered in a "5X Champions" box. The package included a limited-edition flag, and here is who the Patriots chose to be on each ticket:
Jaguars: Chris Hogan
Giants: Patrick Chung
Chiefs: Tom Brady
Texans: Matthew Slater
Panthers: James White
Falcons: Devin McCourty
Chargers: Dont'a Hightower
Dolphins: Rob Gronkowski
Bills: Trey Flowers
Jets: Julian Edelman
Welcome to the big time, Trey Flowers. That's a quick ascent.
7. Did You Know: There are 32 days until the NFL opener between the Chiefs and Patriots, and as part of its ongoing theme, ESPN Stats & Information passes along the following themed nugget: The Patriots defense allowed 32 rushes of 10 yards or more last season, the fewest in the NFL.
8. The Jaguars come to town for two days of joint practices (open to the public) with the Patriots and then a walk-through (closed to the public). So what should New England fans know ahead of Thursday's preseason opener? Here are the Jaguars' top training camp storylines, via ESPN.com NFL Nation reporter Michael DiRocco:
Rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 overall pick, has been impressive. That should mean some good work against the run for the Patriots D.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has had more good days than bad, although a five-interception practice is on his camp résumé.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson could be a budding star, and at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, he's a different type of matchup than the Patriots see in practice on a regular basis.
9. NFL Network announced its lineup for the popular "A Football Life" series in 2017, and the name that jumps off the page from a Patriots perspective is receiver Wes Welker. His story is scheduled to air Oct. 6. When the Patriots traded for him in 2007, giving up a second- and seventh-round pick, the initial reaction of some was that it was a lot to give up for a slot receiver. All Welker did was go on to catch 672 passes for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns from 2007 to 2012.
10. Notable sound bite from Belichick from his interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "Movin' the Chains" program last week, when asked about newcomers adopting the team's approach: "I think the generation that we're dealing with is a little different than what we dealt with a decade ago, or back in '05 and in there, that 2000 to 2005 range. A different type of kid. A different type of athlete. ... We try to prepare the players the best that we can for their transition, not only into professional football but into this area of the country, and also into this football team. ... We spend a lot of time trying to educate them on all the different aspects -- on the field, off the field, training, teamwork, leadership and so forth. These guys have responded well to it. I think our last two draft classes are two of our best classes in terms of guys that buy in and have really tried to do the right thing for the team.”