FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wrapping up the 19th day of training camp and the key storylines:
Tight ends not on the field. The tight end position is a big part of the Patriots' offense, but the team was without its two big weapons on Monday as Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez didn't practice. It doesn't appear to be anything serious as both were spotted before the session. Gronkowski hasn't practiced since Thursday's preseason opener. In addition, receiver Brandon Lloyd did not practice, but it doesn't appear to be anything serious.
Fletcher waived/injured. The Patriots placed linebacker Dane Fletcher on the waived/injured list, meaning any team can claim him over a 24-hour period that began Monday in the late afternoon. This is a calculated risk by the Patriots, who could lose Fletcher in a similar way the Giants lost tight end Jake Ballard. In making the move, it clears a spot on the 90-man roster, which was likely the Patriots' primary motivation.
Longshot WR Davis also waived/injured. The Patriots created a second roster spot by placing receiver Britt Davis on the waived/injured list (bruised shoulder, estimated recovery 2-3 weeks). Davis, who first joined the Patriots' practice squad in January, scored the lone touchdown in the team's preseason opener and was viewed as a developmental prospect.
Brady, Branch, Wilfork & Belichick on 'Patriots Monday'. Quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Deion Branch, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and head coach Bill Belichick were guests on sports radio WEEI as part of Patriots Monday programming. With three preseason games in a span of 10 days, Belichick hinted at how he plans to approach that compact stretch (link here).
Kudos for McDonald. Belichick praised the play of reserve offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who has lined up at all five spots on the line. McDonald had played center and guard since entering the NFL, but the tackle work in the preseason opener helped bail the Patriots out due to a thin depth situation. Belichick said a five-position player like that could potentially be valuable to the club,
Mankins preps for full pads work. Four-time Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins, per NFL rules, wasn't in full pads with the rest of his teammates. A new three-day rule requires players to have an acclimation period before they participate in full-pads work. Mankins returned to practice Sunday, so he's now ready to take the next step.
Koppen comeback. Center Dan Koppen was back with the top group up front, and he also had success in 1-on-1 drills against a tough matchup in Kyle Love (twice) and Marcus Forston (once).
Quote of the day. "Jeremy, don't forget the pads, bro." -- Deion Branch, to rookie receiver Jeremy Ebert as Ebert conducted an interview with reporters (rookies carry veterans' shoulder pads after practice).
Star performer of the day. Tight end Alex Silvestro. Makes a terrific catch down the seam that draws on-field praise from quarterback Tom Brady. Silvestro, a converted defensive end, saw extended reps with Gronkowski and Hernandez out of practice.
Tough day at the office. Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon. Had a tough time with Rob Ninkovich and Tim Bulman in 1-on-1 drills.
Storyline to monitor. With two open roster spots, what do the Patriots do to fill them?
Rookie watch. Defensive end Jake Bequette had two strong rushes against left tackle Nate Solder in 1-on-1 drills. ... Chandler Jones spoke with reporters after practice and touched on how he takes pride in being a high-motor player. ... Defensive end Justin Francis, rushing from an inside position, had a nice effort against Derek Dennis in 1-on-1 drills. ... Receiver Jeremy Ebert muffed a punt. ... Nate Ebner had an interception at safety.