Aug 13, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) and tight end Steve Maneri (86) run through drills during a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Patriots practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, Dominique Easley Participate In 11-On-11's

In their final practice open to the public, the New England Patriots had a few pleasant surprises for us. After weeks of watching from the sidelines, Rob Gronkowski finally participated in 11-on-11 work, and reminding us of how good this offense can be when he is in the middle of it.

The Patriots offense will never be 100% unless Gronk is in there, and by taking these reps now, I think there is a good chance he will be ready to go for the season opener. The Pats don’t want to rush him back, as losing him to another injury early in the year would just be devasting to this offense. That is why they have been taking it slow, and it looks like it will pay off. Rookie Dominique Easley also participated in 11-on-11′s for the first time, making a few impressive moves in pass rushing drills as well.

The Pats defensive line is going to be very dangerous this year, especially if Easley can contribute early. He is an explosive interior pass rusher, which is something that is a necessity in today’s NFL. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Easley and the Patriots. 

And as usual, Malcolm Butler had another strong practice, coming up with a couple more turnovers. I think he is in the hunt to start opposite Revis until Brandon Browner comes back fro his suspension. His play has been that good. 

Jerod Mayo also returned to practice after missing a few days last week, as did Michael Hoomanwanui, and Bryan Stork. Stork may be the most talented center on this roster, so in a few weeks, he may be able to take over that starting role for New England. However that center battle is intense, and it will take a lot of effort from Stork to win the starting job.

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Tags: Dominique Easley New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski

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