July 27, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during training camp at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

Morning Cup of Gronk

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bits and pieces of gray stubble jut out from of his chin and cheeks these days, hard to notice if you’re not looking close enough.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was surrounded by a scrum of reporters following Saturday’s training camp practice at Gillette Stadium, and the topic of discussion was the team’s stocked depth chart at receiver, filled with players with whom Brady has previously developed a solid rapport. Not all of them will stick around; at least one familiar face likely will be sent packing.

Francis, White do not return. Rookie defensive end Justin Francis was carted off the field with what appeared to be a knee injury. Linebacker Tracy White, on the other hand, left the field at another point and did not return. A source told ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss that Francis had cramped up.

With teams now arming themselves with what they hope will prove better alternatives to defend pass-catching tight ends in the mold of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots [team stats] red zone king might be hard-pressed to duplicate the jaw-dropping numbers he put up a year ago in a record-setting season.

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