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Practice tidbits: Gronkowski, others still out

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  August 9, 2011 06:00 PM

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The Patriots were back on the field today in helmets, shells, and shorts. There was a lot of prep work done for Thursday's game against the Jaguars.

Subsequently, there weren't many competitive periods outside of some pass work done without much of a pass rush. So take it for what it's worth.

The big thing is the injury report.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski continued to be out after leaving Monday's practice with an undisclosed injury.

Guards Dan Connolly (right elbow) and Chris Morris (left leg) were out after getting injured Monday as well.

Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Spikes, and Mike Wright missed their fourth straight practice, although Spikes was on the field watching for the first time.

ATTENDANCE PLEASE

- Physically unable to perform list: DL Ron Brace, DL Brandon Deaderick, RB Kevin Faulk, OT Matt Light.
- Non-football injury list: OL Marcus Cannon.
- Out but watching practice: WR Brandon Tate, CB Ras-I Dowling, S James Sanders, S Josh Barrett, RB Shane Vereen, S Ross Ventrone, DL Shaun Ellis, OG Dan Connolly, OG Chris Morris, LB Brandon Spikes.
- Out and not visible at practice: RB Eric Kettani, OL Ryan Wendell, DL Albert Haynesworth, DL Mike Wright, TE Rob Gronkowski.

INJURIES

- RB Stevan Ridley was out for a time icing his left ankle, but he returned.

ODDS AND ENDS

- The Patriots kicked off practice with their annual rookie rite of passage as QB Tom Brady took great pleasure in soaking his younger teammates with a water hose as they slid on the far part of the field. Even rookie assistant George Godsey got into the act.
- With Gronkowski out, both Aaron Hernandez and Lee Smith got a ton of work at tight end and were the featured pass catchers. Hernandez was tough to stop, and Smith showed off his great hands. That has never been an issue for him. His lack of speed and separation has, but the kid can certainly catch when it's thrown in his vicinity. Smith had a terrific leaping catch in the end zone over LB Rob Ninkovich, among others.
- Smith really thudded LB Gary Guyton hard on a crossing route.
- RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a very difficult catch that got through Guyton somehow. He was in perfect position.
- WR Wes Welker just can't be covered. And appears to have kicked the drops that plagued him last year, even if he had one today. They are few and far between.
- WR Darnell Jenkins drops some easy passes, but not many go up the ladder to make the difficult catches as he does.
- Continue to be impressed by WR Jeremy Ross. He does the little things well, like run blocking. Keep an eye on him in the exhibition games. He's my choice for breakout undrafted rooke on that side of the ball. Will it be enough for him to make the team? Doubt it, but he'll make some big plays.
- WR Buddy Farnham had to don a blue pinny and play some defensive back.
- With Connolly out, Rich Ohrnberger was at right guard with the first team.
- LB Marques Murrell continues to get strong special teams consideration, as does Jeff Tarpinian, Ridley, Malcolm Williams and Sergio Brown.
- After a few days rest, P Zoltan Mesko was back on top of his game with several very nice kicks. Nearly all were more than 4.2 in hang time.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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