Patriots training camp notes: Day 6

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Patriots training camp notes: Day 6

FOXBORO -- Night practice: A training camp highlight for Patriots season ticket holders. Or, as it was this Wednesday, a chance for the team to pop the top on some serious aggression.
There was a fracas. Dust-up. Kerfuffle. Whatever you want to call it, Brandon Spikes got dinged up and Nate Solder had to run a lap. Look for a story on that.
On to the notes!
Several guys were out for this session. Expected: Logan Mankins, Alfonzo Dennard, Daniel Fells, Tony Fiammetta, Nick McDonald, Jake Ballard, Myron Pryor, Visanthe Shiancoe, Markus Zusevics, Jonathan Fanene, Jeremy Ebert, Nate Ebner, Brian Waters, Tracy White, Sebastian Vollmer, Jamey Richard. Not expected: Brandon Lloyd, Will Allen, Dan Connolly.
James Ihedigbo and Matthew Slater still wear those red jerseys.
The offensive line did a little shuffling in Connolly's absence and Donald Thomas got more reps out of it. As Bill Belichick would say, there are some things he did well and some things he needs to improve on. Isn't that helpful?
Speaking of the O-line, veteran Dan Koppen looks to be struggling. Not only was he working with the second team but has been losing 1-on-1 battles. His frustration was obvious when he got in the faces of both Dane Fletcher and Ihedigbo.
Matt Kopa left the session early.
Alex Silvestro is now wearing No. 49 and listed at tight end. I don't see this as a good thing for him.
I know fans were really looking forward to seeing Lloyd, or rather, Lloyd working with Tom Brady. I'm told he was kept out for precautionary reasons and the issue is nothing serious. Other than that, I'm not sure what the injury is.
The offense looked sloppy. Several guys had drops: Donte' Stallworth had at least two in 1-on-1s and another in 11-on-11, Edelman had two, and Welker had a ball bounce out of his hands and off his chest. Rob Gronkowski and Jabar Gaffney dropped touchdown balls.
Gaffney was also targeted for a ball by Brian Hoyer that Kyle Arrington intercepted.
But you know who had soft hands? Britt Davis. One catch was a sweet little grab over Ross Ventrone and Tavon Wilson in the corner of the end zone.
The sloppiness continued elsewhere. False starts and offsides penalty lead to laps run by Marcus Cannon, Dane Fletcher, Marcus Forston, Thomas, Jermaine Cunningham, Solder, and Justin Francis. Doing the Run of Shame in front of 22,633 fans had to nick the pride.
Toward the end of practice, Brady lead a 2-minute drill walk-through. Not as exciting as it is when full speed. When they amped it up a little, the offense stalled. Brian Hoyer had a more successful drive, setting up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

Aaron Hernandez and Hoyer hooked up beautifully on a crossing route on the drive with Hernandez reaching up between two defenders to make a grab.

Ryan Mallett continues to struggle. His accuracy was shaky during a red zone drill and the final rep ended with him not getting a throw off before Belichick blew the play dead.

During 1-on-1 tackling drills, Aaron Lavarias ran clean out of his cleat when he started.

Shane Vereen put a ridiculous juke on Spencer Larsen during the tackling drill.

The team gets back to its normal 1:30 to 4 p.m. practice schedule on Thursday and Friday.

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

Rob Gronkowski's contract looked like one of the NFL's best bargains not too long ago. Now, after agreeing to a contract restructure, he could be paid as the top tight end in the league if he stays healthy.

Granted, it's a gargantuan "if."

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gronkowski's restructured deal will bump his salary for this upcoming season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million should he hit certain statistical thresholds or be named an All-Pro.

Per Schefter, Gronkowski earns $10.75 million if he plays 90 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done once before in his career), or makes 80 catches (which he's done twice), or gains 1,200 yards receiving (once), or is named an All-Pro (three times). 

Those seem like lofty goals for the 28-year-old who's entering his eighth year as a pro. But history shows that if he stays on the field for a full season or thereabouts -- 15 games to be specific -- he'll get to where he wants to be. 

If you take out his rookie year, before he had established himself as a go-to option in the Patriots offense, Gronkowski has played in three seasons during which he's reached at least 15 games. In each of those three seasons, he's been named an All-Pro. In 2011, he hit all three statistical markers. In 2014, he hit one. In 2015, he hit none. 

The lesson? When Gronkowski stays relatively healthy throughout a given season, even if he doesn't reach the astronomical statistical heights he reached in his second year, there's a very good chance he's considered the best tight end in the NFL. 

And if that's the case again in 2017, he'll be paid like the best tight end in the NFL.

To hit the second tier of his restructured deal -- which would pay him $8.75 million, per Schefter -- Gronkowski needs to play 80 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done twice), or make 70 catches (three times), or gain 1,000 receiving yards (three times), or catch 12 touchdowns (twice). 

To hit the third tier of his new deal and get $6.75 million, Gronkowski needs to play 70 percent of the snaps (which he's done four times), or make 60 catches (three times), or gain 800 receiving yards (three times), or score 10 touchdowns (five times). 

According to Spotrac, Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks is currently scheduled to be the tight end position's top earner next season at $10 million. Odds are that if Gronkowski avoids disaster and stays on the field, he'll eclipse that.

But the odds of him staying on the field are what they are: He's played in 15 games in four of seven pro seasons. 

The restructured deal seems to be the ultimate incentive for Gronkowski to get healthy and stay that way following last year's season-ending back surgery. If he can, the Patriots will reap the benefits of having the game's most dynamic offensive weapon on the field, and the player will be paid a far cry from what he was scheduled to make when the week began.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10.