FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots hold their eighth training camp practice Friday, and here are some of the notable storylines to this point:
No restrictions with Gronkowski. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has practiced every day and his back has responded well. “I’m good to go, out there every play," he said. "Whatever they need me to do."
Receivers are banged up. While nothing seems like a significant concern with the big picture in mind, the team is managing its personnel at receiver. Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola haven’t been full participants, and Chris Hogan (knee) and Matthew Slater (limped off Wednesday) are both nicked up. That has given 2016 seventh-round pick Devin Lucien and 2017 undrafted free agent Austin Carr a lot of work. And perhaps most important, Brandin Cooks has taken a lot of reps as he gets acclimated to the Patriots' system.
Wise on the rise. With Rob Ninkovich retiring and Kony Ealy's transition to the Patriots not going as smoothly as some might have hoped, it was hard to miss fourth-round draft choice Deatrich Wise getting significant reps at left end with many of the team’s top players around him. Wise has off-the-charts physical traits and intangibles, and a nice opportunity to make an early impression on the staff. Likewise, undrafted free agent Harvey Langi is getting some quality reps as well.
Gillislee first on the goal line, but don’t sleep on Burkhead. When the Patriots worked in full pads with live tackling on the goal line for the first time, running back Mike Gillislee got the ball first and powered through to score two touchdowns in two snaps. That was an indication he is the first choice to replace LeGarrette Blount, but when Gillislee was held out of the past two days of practice, Rex Burkhead stepped in and showed he could also be a significant factor.
Defensive end a concern. If there is one significant hole on the roster, it’s at defensive end. While the Patriots could explore some in-house options, it’s hard to imagine they won’t seriously consider making a run at a free agent or acquiring a player in a trade.