Patriots training camp notes: Day 6

831895.jpg

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.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona. 

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

At this point, there may be no getting out of it.

Roger Goodell chose to visit Atlanta twice in as many weeks during its run to a Super Bowl, and in the process he opted not to check in at Gillette Stadium for either the Divisional Round or the AFC title game. But once the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, many felt as though Goodell would simply have no choice but to attend the 2017 regular-season opener in Foxboro. 

There are those who are itching to have him visit. There are those who hope he stays away. In an interview with ESPN, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't put himself in either camp, but he seemed to suggest that it might not be the best idea for the commissioner to show his face in New England.

"To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so," Gronkowski said when asked if Goodell could come back to Foxboro any time soon. "The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Goodell hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate, but he said during Super Bowl week that he'd be happy to visit if he was invited.