All eyes will be on Brady, GronkowskiBy MARK DANIELS
The Providence Journal, R.I.
June 04. 2018 11:19PM
If all goes the way it should, Gillette Stadium should be drama free this week.
Today marks the start of the Patriots’ mandatory three-day minicamp. That means, for the first time this offseason, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski should be on the practice fields with their teammates. For the first time this offseason, newcomers like Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson will have a chance to catch passes from the future hall of famer. For the first time this offseason, the Patriots’ starting secondary will have to account for two All-Pros on the offensive end.
Minicamp, which runs today through Thursday, also marks the near-end of the Patriots spring workouts. After this week, the Pats finish up with three more practices — they’re OTAs, so they’re not mandatory — before departing for the summer before training camp. So far, this offseason has been highlighted by the absence of Brady and Gronk.
Are they unhappy? Is no one having fun in Foxborough anymore?
This week, we’ll get a sneak peak as the next three days bring plenty to watch.
On Sunday, Gronkowski told reporters at the annual Buzz Off charity event that he’ll be reporting to Gillette Stadium today.
“We’ve got mandatory minicamp this week. So I’ll be there this week. I’ll be full go. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get back to work. I’m excited,” Gronkowski said.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also told reporters at the recent NFL owners meetings in Atlanta that he expects Brady to attend as well.
“I can only say this: I know he’s very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year,” Kraft said.
This offseason has been a strange one for the Patriots.
First, Gronkowski told reporters at Super Bowl LII that he was contemplating retirement. The statement came out of left field and we didn’t see a resolution or answer until April 25 when the tight end said he met with Bill Belichick and told the Patriots coach he would be playing. That doesn’t mean that things are perfect. Gronkowski wants more money and according to multiple reports, his current two-year deal is expected to be either restructured or extended.
It’s worth watching if Gronkowski signs his new deal this week when he’s back in the building.
With Brady, this offseason marked the first time that he didn’t report to Gillette Stadium in April since 2010 when he lived in Los Angeles. But even back then, the quarterback still reported to OTAs and practiced with his teammates. This year, Brady has said that he’s wanted to spend more time with his family. He’s also been seen abroad in Qatar, Brazil and Monaco.
As far as his absence at practice goes, it has been strange that Brady has been reportedly practicing inside the Patriots field house with Julian Edelman. That field house is right next to the practice field. The quarterback has also been getting treatment and working out this offseason at his TB12 Therapy Center, which is right next to Gillette Stadium.
This week, when Brady and Gronk return, a couple things bear watching.
First, does Belichick hold anything against his star players? It would be noteworthy if Brady doesn’t throw with the first-team offense and instead, that privilege goes to Brian Hoyer, who has quarterbacked the starters for seven OTA practices. Belichick could also make Brady and/or Gronk work out on the lower field with the rehabbing players — something Alan Branch was seen doing after he skipped OTAs last year.
If Brady’s return doesn’t coincide with him participating in practice, that would speak volumes about Belichick’s feelings toward the situation.
Typically, Brady completes around 70 percent of his passes when working with the starters.
He usually tortures the defense. We’ll get a small sense of where he is this June in comparison to years past. The same goes for Gronkowski, who is usually one of the best players on the field in these touch-football settings.
If all goes well, the Patriots will look like a team on the verge of another potential Super Bowl run.
If things go awry, it’ll be another strange chapter in the 2018 Pats offseason.