FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski tore down the seam, stopped, turned, and leapt for a pass during a seven-on-seven series at Patriots practice Tuesday morning.
It was a sequence that takes place hundreds of times over the course of training camp, only this time the tight end ended up on the ground after he crashed into safety Damarius Travis, who had leapt simultaneously for Brian Hoyer’s spiral.
Gronkowski got up slowly and made his way to the sideline, tossed his helmet, and took a knee, clearly not happy with how the play went. His disappointment didn’t last long, however, as he was back running routes in no time.
Gronkowski acknowledged after practice that the session, held in searing sunshine and stifling humidity, was a rough one — but certainly nothing new for the nine-year veteran.
“It’s definitely tough for sure, but you’ve got to just grind through it — that’s what this is all about,’’ he said. “It’s the dog days of camp. Really sweaty the first minute you’re out here.
“I think I was dripping sweat everywhere — my gloves were wet — but you’ve just got to grind through it.’’
Gronkowski and the rest of the tight ends didn’t have a terribly busy day in the passing game during Tuesday’s full-team activities, but he did plenty of running.
Gronkowski, along with fellow tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister and fullback James Develin did some late-day wind sprints — and were even joined by tight ends coach Nick Caley.
The All-Pro tight end did some one-on-one work with Tom Brady as well. The pair worked on route running and timing, and Gronkowski was pretty much gassed at the end.
Asked if he had to catch his breath after the side session, he said, “For sure. I’m not going to lie. That’s what makes you better. That’s what gets you through camp. The season doesn’t start for another month or so.
“You want to just keep grinding now, keep on going now so you’re ready for the year.’’
Gronkowski said he’ll be ready if called upon for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Redskins (“I’m always ready to play”) though it’s unlikely he’ll see any action.
He enjoyed his recent time off, using it for rest, recovery, extra treatment, and even a little video-gaming.
“I played ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops,’ ’’ he said. “I still haven’t gotten into the new one. It was too hard to set up.’’
Bill Belichick said receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who was released Monday, “did everything he could,’’ to overcome lingering knee issues and get back on the field.
“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out,’’ the coach said. “But I don’t know how he could have put any more into it than he did.’’
Mitchell finishes his Patriots career (playoffs included) with 39 catches for 476 yards and four touchdowns. His signature performance came in the Super Bowl LI win over Atlanta, when he had six receptions for 70 yards and one heck of a block on James White’s game-winning touchdown run.
A look at Breeland
According to NFL Media, the Patriots worked out Bashaud Breeland, the top free agent cornerback on the market.
Breeland, who had eight interceptions in four seasons with the Redskins, had agreed to a three-year contract with the Panthers in March but couldn’t pass his physical after a cut he suffered on his foot in the Dominican Republic became infected.
The Patriots have a lot of depth at the position, with Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, and Jason McCourty at the top of the chart.
Young players Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen, and Jomal Wiltz have all flashed at times throughout the spring workouts and training camp.
Additionally, Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones, both of whom are coming off injury-shortened seasons, practiced in full pads for the first time Tuesday.
He had a ball
Belichick, who watched Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park with Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, had high praise for the team. “Dave’s done a great job, doing a great job,’’ said the coach. “What a game that was Sunday. What a team they have. I marvel at the way they compete and how consistent they’ve been, how many people have contributed, just the overall organization. Tony [La Russa], Alex [Cora], their scouting staff. You know, we have a good relationship with those people and they’ve been great to us. They provided us with a great experience in June for our football team. So, I wish nothing but the best. Not that they need any help from me. They seem to be doing just fine.’’ . . . Belichick attended Randy Moss’s Hall of Fame induction Saturday night, and chuckled when asked if it were one of the best weekends he has ever had. “Ever? Yeah, I mean it was good,” he said. “I wouldn’t put it up there with some of the championships that we’ve won. I think that would be stretching it a little bit.’’ . . . Brady often spends time after practice throwing to receivers, and Tuesday he worked out with a familiar one: his son, Jack. Brady threw passes at the back end of the field and then had Jack take one spin up the conditioning hill the team often runs after practice.