FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Monday’s New England Patriots practice:
— Earlier this month, workers at Gillette Stadium removed the Patriots’ four Super Bowl banners, which will be displayed in a different location this season.
The team has yet to announce where the banners will be moved to, but construction underway at the stadium Monday morning offered a pretty clear hint.
The Patriots will unveil their Super Bowl LI banner before their Week 1 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 7.
— Many stories have been written about Tom Brady’s former role as the Patriots’ team prankster. Most of them include the anecdote about Brady removing the tires from then-backup quarterback Matt Cassel’s car and having them delivered to Cassel’s locker.
Current third-string QB Jacoby Brissett, whose 40th birthday gift to Brady was a cake with the word “old” written on it, evidently knows that story well.
Asked after practice whether Brady has forgiven him for the cake gag, Brissett responded, “He loved it, right? I thought he did. No, he didn’t (hold it against me). My tires are still on my car.”
— Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy stopped by to watch practice.
Asked whom he would pick if he were drafting a hockey team from the Patriots’ roster, Cassidy went with tight end Rob Gronkowski, who at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds would be quite an imposing presence on the blue line.
Gronkowski is a former hockey player, having played the game as a kid in his native Buffalo. He reflected on his hockey career during the lead-up to the 2016 NHL Winter Classic, which was held at Gillette Stadium.
“I was super aggressive,” Gronkowski said at the time. “Fights, goal scores, checks. … I’d be a left wing. Defense is cool, but I need the action. So, left wing.”
— Speaking of the Gronkowskis, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had plenty of nice things to say about Rob’s younger brother, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, during his morning news conference.
“Hard-working kid, quiet, a little different personality from Rob around here,” Belichick said. “But he just comes in every day, works hard, runs well, has played for us in the kicking game, some as a pass receiver, some as a fullback, so he has a little combination skills there. Just trying to develop kind of that role for himself, but he’s a hard-working kid that’s improved.”
Glenn Gronkowski first joined the Patriots last October after being released by the Buffalo Bills. He spent most of the 2016 season bouncing on and off the practice squad and never appeared in a game.
Gronkowski’s first game action in a Patriots uniform came last Thursday, when he played 20 total snaps in New England’s preseason-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 24-year-old Kansas State product caught one pass for 10 yards on one target.
“This year has obviously been a lot more consistent through the offseason program, through OTAs and through training camp,” Belichick said. “But he’s been durable, hasn’t missed a day, hasn’t missed anything. Just continues to work hard and get better.”
Regardless of how hard Gronkowski works, it’s difficult to envision him earning a spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster this summer. He’s currently second on the depth chart at fullback behind James Develin, and the team almost certainly will not keep two players at that position.
Right now, Baby Gronk should be hoping for another spot on the practice squad.
— Patriots rookie tight end Jacob Hollister earned a spot on Pro Football Focus’ “Team of the Week” after catching seven passes for 116 yards against the Jaguars.
Hollister had his right shoulder examined Monday after taking a big hit in 11-on-11 drills, but he returned to the field after a few minutes and finished out the session.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images