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By Dan Roche

FOXBORO (CBS) — The highlight of Thursday is already well known: Tom Brady’s 40th Birthday. But that also gives us time to pause.

So with that said, here are a few thoughts and observations from Day 7 of Patriots training camp:

– The Patriots did a great job with their fans on Thursday to celebrate Tom’s Big 4-0. There were giant Birthday cards for fans to sign when they walked into camp, a giant G-O-A-T structure where fans could take pics in front of, and even a small petting zoo with five actual goats (one for each of Brady’s Super Bowl wins).

cards Roche: Brady Turns 40 & Patriots Secondary Continues To Impress

Patriots fans signed giant birthday cards for Tom Brady on his 40th birthday. (WBZ-TV)

– Brady was one of the first players out on the practice field and once he was recognized (fans are far away from where players walk out) he was given a solid ovation. The fans even serenaded him with a quick Happy Birthday.

– Brady was not seen very much at practice because he was sent to the lower conditioning field – along with several starters – for some lighter work. Just before practice wrapped up for the day, Brady spent a few minutes conversing with owner Robert Kraft.

– As practice ended, Bill Belichick huddled his team together and allowed the fans to sing Happy Birthday to Brady again. Brady was then allowed to lead the huddle break, and he received several high fives from his teammates. The quarterback spent several minutes signing autographs and taking pictures with fans before eventually leaving the field for good.

As for the non-Brady portion of Thursday’s practice….

– Matthew Slater (injury), Cody Hollister (injury), and Nate Solder were not present.

– It was a bit of a strange day as many of the veterans did some walk-through work and participated in early drills, but then made their way to the lower conditioning field. Among those were Brady, Gronk, Edelman, Cooks, Allen, White, Andrews, Thuney, Cannon, Mason, Butler, Chung, Gilmore, and Chung.

Once down on the lower field, it looked like they did some conditioning and ran through some plays. It could have been to give these veterans some rest after a grueling day on Wednesday. It also could have been due to the wide receivers being nicked up.

– Meanwhile, with all the talk centered around the offense it should be noted how great the defense has looked early on. In particular, the secondary has made a lot of good plays. Malcolm Butler’s play has really stood out as well as that of newcomer Stephon Gilmore. Those two should be able to shut down many potent offenses.

– A day after the just-retired Rob Ninkovich worked with the edge rushers on technique, Bill Belichick out there doing the same thing. Of course with Ninkovich gone, as well as Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, this is an area that will be watched closely all through camp. Rookies Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise Jr. have made their presence known early, but there is a long, long way to go.

– There were some nice catches in 1-on-1 drills by Tony Washington, Devin Lucien and Rex Burkhead.

– Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett had more reps with Brady being on a lower field. The play of the day came when Jimmy G. found tight end Jacoby Hollister over the middle for a TD on a beautifully thrown ball.

– Austin Carr continues to show up and make plays every day. Can’t ask much more from the Northwestern rookie early on.

– Defensive back Kenny Moore had a nice hit on Tony Washington that forced him to cough up the ball during red zone work.

– Practice continues on Friday at 9:15am and it’s once agian open to the public. Players now have an eye towards next Monday and Tuesday when joint practices with the Jaguars get underway.

– Don’t forget all four preseason games will be on WBZ-TV with your truly, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Paul Perillo and Andy Hart. The first game is on August 10 at 7:30pm against the Jags here at Gillette Stadium.

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