Sunday soundbites from locker room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some picked-up pieces after talking to players during Sunday morning's open locker room session:

Gronkowski on Branch release. Tight end Rob Gronkowski had the following to say on the release of Deion Branch: "He's just a great guy overall. Taught so much on the field -- how to practice, how to stay motivated out there, how to always do the rep right so we don't have to repeat everything. He's a great guy. Always love talking with him and we'll always be in touch with him."

McCourty set to face twin brother. Cornerback Devin McCourty is set to face his twin brother for the first time since entering the NFL two seasons ago. On Sunday, Devin joked that he won't be talking to his twin, Jason, a Titans cornerback, this week. "I told him, starting today, we're done," McCourty said. "I told him to lose my (phone) number."

Gronkowski still gets jitters. Excitement often seems to find the third-year tight end these days, but Rob Gronkowski said getting ready for next Sunday's regular-season opener still gets him anxious. "Always excited to get the season started. First game of the season ... always got the jitters, always ready to go and always excited for the game to come," Gronkowski said. "To see college football started this week ... it was exciting watching all that and it makes you more excited to get going."

Most competitive camp in Lloyd's career. He was the only newcomer to survive roster cuts at his position, but veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd says that this past training camp was the most competitive of his career. "Nothing's for certain. It was a competitive camp. I haven't been in a camp that was that competitive at the wide receiver position, where guys had so much experience, past experience with the starting quarterback, had success in the NFL, and then were just all battling out for a couple of spots. That's just the way it shook out. We all understood what we were competing for by signing here, and then it was up for the coaching staff and ultimately how we practiced and played to make the team."

Jones adjusts to being a pro. Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones touched on a number of topics, including earning the trust of veterans on the roster and how it’s hard for him to imagine what his emotions will be like when he takes the field for his first regular-season game. As for the adjustment from college to the NFL, Jones said, “The biggest transition is time management. It’s the maturity level you have as a player to take time out and go in and study on your own time.”

Mallett now 'one snap away'. With the Patriots releasing backup quarterback Brian Hoyer on Friday, Ryan Mallett has been thrust into the top backup role. Mallett touched on his excitement of winning that competition, but also expressed empathy for Hoyer, whom he called “a good guy.” In terms of comfort level, Mallett said he’s much further along this year (as one would expect), but stressed that his approach won’t change. “I’m one snap away,” he said, “so I have to be ready.”