Rob Gronkowski thinks Tom Brady has changed over years

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rob Gronkowski has noticed something about teammate Tom Brady as the years have passed. With Brady approaching his 41st birthday on Friday, Gronkowski sees a kinder, gentler quarterback.

"I would say, probably back in the day, he was probably a little more on you if you didn't get it right, a little bit more in your face. But he's going on 41 now, I feel like he backed off on that a little bit, which is nice. He used to be mean to me," Gronkowski said with a lighthearted delivery after Wednesday's sixth practice of training camp. "Now he's not to these young guys anymore."

But Gronkowski still sees the same competitive fire on the field from Brady, which was on full display Wednesday when he implored his offensive teammates to raise their energy level in what appeared to be a sluggish practice at times.

"It's just unreal, it's remarkable. You just learn from him. You want to get taught from him," said Gronkowski, who enters his ninth season, all with Brady. "You want to be on the same chemistry as him out on the field, because he knows where you need to be. He knows talent around him, he knows guys around him, he's seen talent from the last 15-20 years on. So when he has something to say, something to correct, you have to listen. ...

"At age 41, there are coaches younger than him on the roster. And he looks younger than the coaches. Just the way he's moving, just [how] reliable he is at times, is just unbelievable and something to look up to."

Often playful, Gronkowski joked that he had an idea for a present for his favorite quarterback, but planned to keep it a secret.

After laughing at himself, Gronkowski turned more serious and said, "He loves the game of football so much. Usually on his birthday he just wants a good practice, a lot of touchdowns."