An important part of Rob Gronkowski's early impact in the Patriots' offense has been his presence. He hasn't missed a practice since first participating in rookie minicamp in April.
Then this preseason, no Patriots offensive skill-position player has been on the field more, as Gronkowski played 127 snaps (including penalties). Yet in a sign of how he is now viewed by the coaching staff, Gronkowski came off the field with the starters after two series Thursday night against the Giants.
A breakdown of Gronkowski's playing time:
Giants -- 14
Rams -- 24
Falcons -- 44
Saints -- 45
Gronkowski's four touchdown receptions tied for the NFL lead this preseason.
The Patriots had two other players lead the NFL this preseason: Tom Brady's 128.4 passer rating was a league high, while Brandon Tate topped the kickoff return charts (44.0 avg.).