FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up their first practice of training camp, a hot and steamy morning session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. It was a practice that went for two-plus hours, with players in helmets, sweats and shorts. It’ll be a dicey practice report because players were not wearing numbers. In addition, as the newest CBA dictated, there were no pads for the first day of camp. As a result, the workout results need to be taken with a massive grain of salt. But there were a few things that really stood out on the first day.

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo got a nice hand as they walked on the practice field, with Brady drawing the biggest cheers when he hit the top stop on his way out to the workout. Brady drew big applause throughout the morning, regardless of whether or not he was working in individual throwing drills alongside Garoppolo and firing passes to a ballboy or taking part in 11-on-11 drills. He got an especially big cheer toward the end of practice when he took off on a play and ran for a touchdown in a short-yardage situation.

At least initially, it appeared that Brady was working with the starting offense at the far end of the field, while Garoppolo was with the No. 2 offense. Later in practice, Brady and Garoppolo alternated, moving from one practice field to another. Garoppolo was picked off on one of his pass attempts in a 7-on-7 session, but he bounced back and managed to deliver some nice throws, including a sweet fade on a touchdown pass to an unidentified receiver in the corner of the end zone. (Later in that same drill, Brady hit Gronk on a crossing route over the middle, a really impressive throw.)

In 11-on-11s toward the end of practice, the two quarterbacks traded snaps. In the first series, Brady went 5-for-6, including a really nice pass over the middle to Edelman and a trick play where the quarterback ended up coasting into the end zone for a touchdown. Garoppolo them took over and went 5-for-5 on a sequence that was punctuated by a touchdown pass to Gronkowski where he wrestled the ball away from a defensive back. Brady them jumped back in and went 4-for-6 on a series that ended with a touchdown pass to Edelman. Garoppolo went 3-for5 to wrap things up.

The two quarterbacks were then separated in two-minute work. In the first series, Brady appeared really sharp, going 7-for-7 with a touchdown pass to Gronk. On the other side, Garoppolo went 7-for-8 on a drive that saw an unidentified offensive linemen jump offsides. After a quick break, they came back in the other direction, and Garoppolo was 5-for-6, including a deep ball for Brian Tyms that was overthrown.

However, this is important note: when the real difference-makers in the passing game were assembled in the corner of the field working on red-zone situations, it was Brady and not Garoppolo who was leading a group that included Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. (It was also interesting to see that without Brandon LaFell on the field, Aaron Dobson was with that grouping as well.)

It was difficult to discern just who was out there, but when the No. 1 offense was on the field, the Patriots were rotating different bodies at both guard spots. (It’€™s important to note that last year’€™s starting right guard Ryan Wendell opened camp on PUP.)

It was interesting to see that linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower was on the field. The veteran, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, was considered by some to be a question mark heading into camp. But he was not placed on PUP this week, and while there were no pads (and no contact) on Thursday, the sight of him on the field with the rest of his teammates is a positive sign in the overall recovery process. Alan Branch, Dominique Easley and Dane Fletcher ‘€” who were all placed on PUP earlier in the week ‘€” were also spotted on the sidelines with the rest of the defense. Meanwhile, the offensive players who were placed on either the NFI or PUP lists that weren’€™t spotted included wide receiver Brandon LaFell. (Quarterback Matt Flynn and running back LeGarrette Blount, both of whom were classified as NFI, were spotted on the field working with teammates, but not engaging in drills.)

Owner Robert Kraft appeared roughly halfway through the workout, and got a standing ovation from the fans who were in attendance. Kraft spent roughly 10 minutes talking with Brady during a break in the workout (Garoppolo was working in goal-line action with some of the coaches.) Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley was also spotted on the sidelines.

Fullback James Develin had to run a penalty lap for a perceived infraction early in practice. Edelman also had to run a lap later in practice as well.

Roughly midway through practice, a plane flew overheard trailing a big banner that read ‘€œCHEATERS LOOK UP,’€ with a Twitter handle following after implying that it was from a Jets fan.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The public relations assault on the Patriots became aerial Thursday on the first day of training camp.

A plane circles over Gillette Stadium Thursday with a banner that reads "Cheaters look up" (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

A plane circles over Gillette Stadium Thursday with a banner that reads “Cheaters look up” (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — The public relations assault on the Patriots became aerial Thursday on the first day of training camp.

A New York Jets fan site (NYJetsfans.com) hired a plane to fly over Gillette Stadium and the Patriots training fields with a banner that read “Cheaters Look Up.”

The plane began flying as the Patriots worked out in the summer heat on the fields below.

The Patriots have been embroiled in the Deflategate drama since the AFC championship. But the Jets’ link is interesting as the Patriots were accused of cheating in the “Spygate” scandal of 2007.

Mike Kensil, a former Jets team president, now works in the NFL office and has been a key figure in the league’s investigation of the Patriots during Deflategate.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — It’s hot and humid this week in Foxboro. The perfect conditioning weather for Bill Belichick as training camp begins.

Bill Belichick addresses reporters before start of training camp Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick addresses reporters before start of training camp Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — It’s hot and humid this week in Foxboro. The perfect conditioning weather for Bill Belichick as training camp begins.

Belichick made reference to that Thursday morning, in his press conference at Gillette Stadium before the first practice of camp.

“Get off to good start here in training camp,” Belichick said. “I think, overall, the team, for the most part, is in pretty good condition based on what we saw [Wednesday] and the previous couple of days before that. We’ll see how it goes when we get into a regular type practice later on in the week.”

Hopefully by then, Belichick and the Patriots will have the services of running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive lineman Alan Branch and offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann, all of whom were placed on the non-football injury list Wednesday after the team’s conditioning run. Belichick hinted Thursday that those three didn’t pass the test on the field with the rest of the team.

“We have a few guys who aren’t quite ready to go yet,” Belichick said. “We’ll take those guys day-by-day and see how that turns out.”

Players keep taking the test until they pass.

“It’s always good to everybody out there on the field. Looks like we have a nice warm week so it’ll be good for us out there,” Belichick said of the rest of the team.

Then there’s the matter of players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Linebackers Jerod Mayo (patellar tendon) and Dont’a Hightower (labrum), special teams captain Matthew Slater, defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knees) and defensive end Chandler Jones all missed time during OTAs and minicamp.

“We have a lot of guys that are in different [situations],” Belichick said. “Each individual is different. We’ve talked to all the players who are in various stages of rehabilitation. Some guys are able to do some things. Some guys are able to less than that or different things. Lower body injuries, upper body injuries, so forth and so on. Each guy is different. Each situation is different.

“We treat them all individually and try to do the best we can for each individual player based on his situation, his injury, his experience, the position he plays and so forth. So there’s really not a standard for anybody. I’ve spoken with all of those guys and we’ve talked about what our plan is and we’ll go with that and see how it goes. Maybe we’ll be on it, maybe we’ll have to alter it. It’s pretty common. We’ve coached a lot of players and been through a lot of these situations. Just take it individually.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Tom Brady and the NFLPA hired attorney Jeffrey Kessler to represent him in court as the attorney has a history of beating the NFL in court.

Kessler isn’t pleased with the way the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell portrayed Brady destroying his cell phone.

“It’€™s just grasping at straws to try to divert attention from their complete lack of evidence or legal process to justify what’€™s happened here,” Kessler told USA Today. “You heard the outrage today from Mr. Kraft. That was completely justified. I’€™ve never more agreed with Robert Kraft in my life, about anything.”

The attorney doesn’t understand why the case is now not focused on the science, but now limited to Brady’s phone.

“The NFL has made no claim that somehow they’€™re missing something,” Kessler said. “They made this argument, ‘€˜Well, maybe if they looked at his phone, they’€™d find some incriminating e-mail like from Tom to his father.’€™ Really? That’€™s what they’€™re arguing about?”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

This is not good news for Tom Brady.

According to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal, a Minnesota judge has ordered the NFLPA lawsuit over Brady be transferred to Manhattan, which is where the NFL filed.

This is not good news for Tom Brady.

According to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal, a Minnesota judge has ordered the NFLPA lawsuit over Brady be transferred to Manhattan, which is where the NFL filed.

It’s not good news as Minnesota has been known to be labor-friendly, but instead it appears the case will be heard in New York.

U.S. district judge Richard Kyle wrote: “The court appreciates no “compelling circumstances” undermining application of the first-filed rule to transfer this action from Minnesota to New York, where the first action was filed. Indeed, the Court sees little reason for this action to have commenced in Minnesota at all. Brady plays for a team in Massachusetts; the Union is headquartered in Washington D.C.; the NFL is headquarted in New York; the arbitration proceedings took place in New York; and the award was issued in New York. In the undersigned view, therefore, it makes eminent sense the NFL would have commenced its action seeking confirmation of the award in the Southern District of New York.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the latest with Tom Brady and what Robert Kraft’s statement meant Wednesday.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the latest with Tom Brady and what Robert Kraft’s statement meant Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The biggest story from Wednesday was Robert Kraft coming out swinging against the league and Roger Goodell with the way the Deflategate case has been handled. Schefter said it would have been tough for Kraft to take this to court and go against the league, which is likely why back in May he accepted the penalties against the team.

Schefter said Kraft’s message is loud and clear now.

“I think part of the reason he didn’t go to court before and part of the reason why he accepted his punishment was because he had a lack of recourse at that point in time,” Schefter said. “It was not a CBA that protected him. There was not something that said he could take this to court. It’s not what you want to do in any particular case, maybe you succeed, maybe you prevail, maybe you don’t. You bloody your partner. Not worth it to him at that point in time. Not with the relationship that he had there. He fell on his sword there.

“Now, I think his words carry a message. The people in New York know he’s not happy. I think there’s a lot on the line here. Somebody in the end here is going to look very bad. Even if the NFL wins this court case, they still lose because they’ve basically beaten up their favorite son (Tom Brady), their poster child. When the poster child of the sport has just got abused here the last six months. Even if you win in court, what do you win there by doing that to a guy who you’ve alienated from the league for the rest of his life. … Come to the Super Bowl, make an appearance — that’s never happening again.”

Schefter said the whole thing has been botched from the start.

“Here’s the amazing part, this was not some regional game like New England-Jacksonville. This is the AFC championship game where the league has 30 representatives in New England for the game,” he said. “The day before you can call New England and say look, ‘We’ve got complaints about this. We want to let you know that we’re going to be checking and monitoring this. If there’s any funny business, there’s going to be a steep price to pay.’ That didn’t happen. That goes to my initial point. This little brush fire, we allowed this to burn down the whole house.”

“This whole thing that was a little brush fire, has been allowed to turn into an inferno,” he added. “This whole inconsequential situation about air pressure has dominated news headlines for months. It’s staggering to me that his could happen. That people allowed this to happen.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more visit, weei.com/patriots.

On league not sending out warning before suspending Brady: “Tom Brady, or any other quarterback, or any other player in the league has never been handed literature that says, ‘If you mess with the psi and deflate footballs you will be suspended for X number of games.’ That’s never happened. That is going to be the foundation for their court case. Have we ever seen anyone mess with the air pressure and be suspended four games?”

On Chris Mortensen’s report of 11 of 12 Patriots game balls being under inflated: “First of all, I’ve never had in depth conversations with Chris about this story. Chris is as good of a reporter that there is. He’s been a pioneer in this industry. When he decides to do things, he has a reason for doing them. I’ll stand behind him as a reporter and a man. And I love him. I don’t know the particulars of what happened. I really don’t. I can tell you this, somebody wanted information — you’re blaming him. I will say this: No. 1, I am sure he has an explanation. No. 2, any reporter in the country if they have high level people calling them, giving them information, almost anybody is going to run with that.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable