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Patriots.com News Blitz 7/28/2012

Posted Jul 28, 2012

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that tight end Rob Gronkowski is “glad to be back” after rehabbing from ankle surgery this offseason and has been fairly active during the team’s first two practices. “Gronkowski reported no issues with the surgically repaired left ankle,” writes Reiss. There were some lingering doubts as to whether Gronkowski would be 100% to start training camp, but Reiss writes that these questions have been answered “as decisively as one of his trademark touchdown spikes.” “I’m out there going full right now,” the tight end told reporters after Friday’s practice. “I’m here to play some football, baby. You know it.”

Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe notes that the “first real injury of camp” occurred Friday when cornerback Alfonzo Dennard left the field with a hamstring injury. Bedard writes that Dennard “collided with FB Spencer Larsen and walked off with a hamstring injury” and “did not return.” Bedard also points out that before his injury, Dennard had a nice pass breakup on a deep ball from quarterback Tom Brady to receiver Jabar Gaffney in what was one of the “top plays by a member of the secondary.”

Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots signed rookie offensive tackle Darrion Weems on Friday. “Weems (6-foot-5, 302 pounds) was signed by the Vikings after going undrafted in April's draft,” writes Rodak. “He was waived by Minnesota on Tuesday.” The 23-year-old Weems played college football at Oregon, where he started 14 games last year as a senior. With Weems, the Patriots now have 17 offensive lineman on their 90-man roster, although only 10 of them participated in Friday’s practice.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe writes that tight end Aaron Hernandez has been showing his versatility early on in camp, getting heavily involved in the pass game and even returning a few punts. Young writes that Hernandez is “anything but a traditional tight end, even in a time when the position has become known more for pass catching than blocking.” “I love being able to have the ball in my hands and make plays,” said Hernandez on Friday when asked about his role catching punts. “Hopefully I get an opportunity to be back there.”

Mark Daniels of the Boston Herald writes that linebacker Dont'a Hightower hopes to follow in the footsteps of former SEC linebacker Jerod Mayo this season. Mayo told reporters on Friday that he is longtime fan of Mayo and hopes to learn as much as he can from the defensive captain. “Me talking to (Mayo) and asking him how he did things as a rookie, how he prepared and things like that. It’s going to help me out all the better,” says Hightower. Daniels notes that Hightower is already “ahead of the rookie curve” having played under Nick Saban’s pro-style defense at Alabama.

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