Five notes from the first day of New England Patriots training camp:
1. Jabar Gaffney Starts Strong
Patriots Football Weekly's Andy Hart commented on Gaffney's day one performance, writing that Gaffney had an "impressive day" while making plays "all over the field." Gaffney was an under-the-radar addition for the Patriots, and at this point, looks to be close to a lock for a spot on the final roster, and will more than likely be the Patriots' #3 receiver come September.
2. 12,000 in Attendance
According to a report from the team, there were more than 12,000 fans in attendance for today's opening session of Patriots training camp. That's a single session camp record, and just goes to show the hype heading into 2012 for the Patriots.
3. Shuffle on the offensive line
With Logan Mankins recovering from an ACL injury and Brian Waters a camp no-show, the Patriots are a bit thin on the interior of the offensive line. According to Mike Reiss, the Patriots first string interior line on Thursday included Ryan Wendell at left guard, Dan Koppen at center, and Dan Connolly at right guard. While Dan Koppen could be considered expendable with Dan Connolly ahead of him on the depth chart, the longer Mankins and Waters are out, the higher his chances of making the roster become. At this point, I like an interior line of Wendell-Koppen-Connolly more than any combination that includes Robert Gallery.
4. Belichick: Day One "About the Little Things"
During his opening press conference of training camp, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick commented on the approach to the beginning of training camp, saying "it's all about fundamentals, doing the little things right and then building a base and adding onto it as we can. I don't know exactly what rate that will be at, depending how it goes and how we do, what we're ready to handle. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us; have a lot of things that we need to cover and we'll take them on as hopefully we're ready for them."
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, was a full participant for practice today. Gronkowski wasn't donning the red "non-contact" jersey, which likely means that he will he has cleared for full contact, which is a positive sign. Matt Slater and James Ihedigbo both wore the red "non-contact" jersey, while Nate Ebner did not participate. Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe also notes that Brandon Spikes seemed to be "very limited," with Dane Fletcher taking the majority of the middle linebacker snaps.
TOMORROW'S SCHEDULE: Practice, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM ET