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NFL roundup: Brady draws cheers at 1st Patriots camp

Associated Press

Foxborough, Mass. — Patriots fans drove to Gillette Stadium past a booth selling “Free Tom Brady” T-shirts.

Then, when they arrived for the first training camp practice for the Patriots on Thursday, they let the star quarterback know how they felt.

Brady took the field to a boisterous cheer from the more than 10,000 fans who sat in a sweltering sun to see the Super Bowl champions open the defense of their title.

Team owner Robert Kraft, who lashed out at the NFL a day earlier for upholding Brady’s suspension, also got loud applause when he came out on the field.

Kraft waved to fans when he arrived, and then signed autographs for about 20 minutes at the end of practice.

Fans were overwhelmingly supportive of the owner, according to a photographer who witnessed the exchanges in an area off limits to writers.

Up above, an airplane buzzed the practice field towing a banner that said: “Cheaters Look Up!” and listing the Twitter handle of a Jets fan website.

But at ground level, Brady looked sharp in his first football action since the Patriots beat the Seahawks in February for the franchise’s — and his — fourth NFL title. He even had a one-handed touchdown catch on a pass from Julian Edelman, according to a video posted online by a member of the public. (The Patriots do not allow media to report on formations or trick plays.)

Brady was suspended four games and the team was docked $1 million and two picks for what the NFL said was a scheme to provide insufficiently inflated footballs for the AFC Championship game against the Colts. Brady appealed, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the punishment Tuesday.

Officials from the players union and NFL filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court seeking support for their position. Before the Patriots took the field Thursday, a judge in Minnesota rejected the union’s suit and said the case would be heard in New York.

Brady, however, was a winner again on the field, with fans chanting his name and waving signs in support of the three-time Super Bowl MVP.

He was not available to the media on Thursday, slipping away through an inaccessible exit after practice.

Backup Jimmy Garoppolo told reporters he was not thinking about whether he would have to start for the first four games if Brady’s suspension holds. He said he does not have a preference on whether he likes the football hard or soft.

Earlier, coach Bill Belichick declined to answer questions about the deflated footballs scandal for the second straight day, citing Kraft’s admonition that the team shouldn’t discuss it.

His players followed suit.

Extra points

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was charged in St. Charles County, Missouri, with resisting arrest and traffic violations on July 14 — just two weeks after his NFL-issued four-game drug suspension.

... The Giants have no firsthand knowledge about the extent of the hand injuries Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained in a July 4 fireworks accident in Florida.

... Bears cornerback Tim Jennings pleaded guilty to reckless driving stemming from an arrest in Georgia in January.

... Rams first-round pick Todd Gurley is ahead of schedule, but the team isn’t counting on the running back being ready for the season opener.

... Pass rusher Junior Galette is visiting Washington for a physical after being cut by the Saints because of off-field problems.

... Cowboys running back Darren McFadden will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list because of a hamstring injury.

... Jaguars defensive end Chris Clemons is a no-show for training camp.