Practice pays off for Patriots CB Dennard

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Practice pays off for Patriots CB Dennard

FOXBORO -- Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard made his NFL debut on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. And he made a few big plays to break up critical passes from Peyton Manning.

His presence on the field Sunday exemplifies exactly where the Patriots are with their secondary. They're looking to improve, even if it means giving a previously injured rookie his first opportunity against a quarterback like Manning.

But Bill Belichick's reason for giving Dennard an opportunity didn't just stem from team needs. It also was a reward for the improvements Dennard has made in his overall game during practice.

As Belichick pointed out on Wednesday, Dennard has become a better football player, day-by-day.

"He performed well in practice," said Belichick. "He's had some opportunities the last couple weeks. He missed some time there, earlier in the season. And he's had some opportunities at practice, on the practice squad. That led to some opportunities on defense, running our stuff. And it looked like he showed that he was prepared, that he knew what to do, and that he was competitive doing it. We sprinkled him in there a little bit during the game, and he was able to be competitive."

NFL Scouting Combine preview: Defensive linemen

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NFL Scouting Combine preview: Defensive linemen

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Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)

[H/T NESN.com]