PHOTOS: Patriots Training Camp 2012 Opens in Foxborough
Here's scenes from day one of the New England Patriots 2012 training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Another season of New England Patriots football began Thursday afternoon in front of a record crowd as Foxborough's hometown team opened its 2012 NFL training camp.
Despite the threat of severe weather, nearby Foxborough Patch joined over 12,000 spectators at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium Thursday to catch the first public glimpse of the 2012-13 version of the Patriots.
Check out scenes from Thursday's practice in the photo gallery above and continue reading for practice notes from Thursday's public session.
Day One Thoughts
Obviously, one practice – and the first one of the season at that – does not reveal too many answers into how the season will play out, but if the crowd on hand was any indication, it is surely to be another year of high expectations and success for the local boys of fall.
The crowd - estimated by the Patriots Media Relations Department to be greater than 12,000 – was the most to attend a public practice session outside of Gillette Stadium in 53 years of Patriots training camp.
Excitement for the Patriots' return was ever present around the practice fields – from both players and fans. Even head coach Bill Belichick was excited for the start of the season, greeting media in his introductory press conference prior to the start of practice.
"Welcome to training camp," Belichick said.
Offense Will Be Fun to Watch
After day one, the Patriots offense, led by 13-year-All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady, looked as good after one practice as it did on paper prior to the start of the season.
Brady looked as cool and focused as ever, finding receivers in stride all over the field – highlighted by a 50-plus touchdown pass to receiver Jabar Gaffney. Brady and Deion Branch continued to show the on-field chemistry that has made the duo successful over the years and newcomer Brandon Lloyd – wearing former Patriot Chad (Occhocinco) Johnson's 85 – looked sharp in-and-out of routes and looked to be developing a good rapport with his Pro Bowl quarterback.
Wes Welker received the crowd's support early on in camp with an explosion of cheers and applause after making a routine catch during a drill. Welker and Brady worked on seam routes towards the end of practice, with Brady overthrowing #83 on numerous attempts before hitting him in stride towards the end of the route-running drill.
Gronkowski Ready to 'Yo Soy Fiesta' on his Ankle
Tight end Rob Gronkowski's injured ankle did not appear to give him any trouble during Thursday's practice as #87 was moving in and out of routes, cutting and catching passes without any limitations. Gronk looks to be healthy and ready to go.
Running Backs Will Get Long Looks in Camp
With the recent release of Joseph Addai because of a reported failed physical, three running backs on the roster seem to be battling for first team carries. Danny Woodhead got in some early work with the first team but second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen took plenty of reps with Brady under center. Should make for a great position battle this preseason.
No Talk of Super Bowl XLVI
As is the Patriot Way, the team collectively has moved on from last year and the devastating loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI ... at least they've done so in front of the media as the common term used in front of the cameras and voice recorders Thursday was "last year was last year, we're focused on this year."
Patriots fans alike have taken to this mentality, as the more than 12,000 spectators on Thursday were excited to get the 2012-13 season going and put 2011-12 behind them. So far, so good.
- It was good to see some old faces back on the Patriots practice field. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels and wide receivers Gaffney and Donte Stallworth are back in red, white and blue.
- Troy Brown was present at camp and took time to greet fans and sign autographs following practice.
- Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer looked sharp all day Thursday, fitting the ball tightly between defenders and firing bullets. He was accurate and looked as if he was either beginning his audition for a starting job elsewhere in the NFL or that he is not going to give up his spot behind Brady to Ryan Mallet easily. Or both.
Thursday's excitement surrounding the Patriots made for a great day on the practice fields. Football in Foxborough is back and the start to another Patriots season has begun.