Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 7/26/12

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 02: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots carries a reception into the endzone past Antrel Rolle of the New York Giants for a first quarter touchdown on September 2, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The Patriots took their first step towards Super Bowl XLVII on Thursday as they opened training camp for the 2012 season at Gillette Stadium. Over 12,000 fans were reportedly on hand to watch Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Co. begin official preparations for the upcoming season. Wes Welker was also there, and though the wide receiver was not able to come to terms with the team on a long-term contract extension, he did sign his franchise tender and will make $9.5 million this season. Two-time All-Pro guard Brian Waters was the only notable absence, though head coach Bill Belichick declined...
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