FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New England Patriots training camp:
Tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to work only in individual drills, and one of those drills today came as he caught passes from quarterback Tom Brady while being covered by cornerback Darrelle Revis at a walkthrough-type pace. "It’s good to get that work in. It’s good to have him around you so you know what it’s like to have a defender right up on you for when you go full speed," Gronkowski said after practice. Brady, Revis and Gronkowski -- that's a terrific trio that in many ways holds the keys to the team's high hopes in 2014.
As is often the case in training camp, injuries and absences are starting to accumulate. Most notable was rookie center Bryan Stork leaving Tuesday's practice midway through with a member of the athletic training staff. Stork, the team's fourth-round draft choice from Florida State, walked to the locker room under his own power. A potential extended absence could represent a turning point in the highly-anticipated competition at center with incumbent Ryan Wendell, which is one of the Patriots' top positional battles in camp.
Receiver Julian Edelman put on a show with a one-handed/one-arm highlight reel catch on a fade pass in the end zone, and maybe that explains why he was all smiles after practice. Seems like a good time to point out that Edelman, who led the team with 105 catches in 2013, has put together a strong camp as Tom Brady's go-to guy.
In a variation of a live tackling Oklahoma drill (ball-carrier vs. defender in a confined space), safety Devin McCourty delivered one of the defensive plays of the day by forcefully ripping the ball out of the grasp of rookie running back Roy Finch. The play reflected what a significant portion of the practice was all about -- the fundamentals of tackling, continuing to get players acclimated to contact, and the defense practicing with an edge.
With cornerback Alfonzo Dennard being actived off the physically-unable-to-perform list, the Patriots' secondary continues to take shape. Dennard, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, participated mostly in individual drills on Tuesday. He is a top candidate to start in place of Brandon Browner while Browner serves his season-opening four-game suspension, along with second-year player Logan Ryan, who took extended reps as the top nickel corner in this practice.