The New England Patriots resumed their voluntary organized team activities (OTA) on Tuesday without quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady’s absence was noticeable because he was a permanent fixture in OTAs in the past [VIDEO]. Gronkowski, for his part, is reportedly working to restructure his contract with the Patriots. When asked by reporters about Brady and Gronkowski, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was in his usual form, declining to discuss his absent players: “Yeah, I am not going to talk about the people who aren’t here,” Belichick said when asked about Brady and Gronkowski.

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Belichick said he’d rather talk about players present in OTAs, adding that these guys are improving and working hard.

Belichick focused on guys present

“Those are the guys who we are going to focus on,” Belichick stressed.

Belichick also refused to talk about his discussion with Gronkowski before the All-Pro announced that he would return for the 2018 season. Belichick said he’s focused on the guys present in OTAs. “Those are the guys I’m concentrated on, and that’s what we’re focused on,” Belichick said. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported that Brady and Gronkowski got their usual treatments on Monday and Tuesday at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center, which is near Gillette Stadium. According to reports, Brady is expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp from June 5 to 7 while Gronkowski may attend some OTA sessions. Several Patriots players also spoke about Brady's absence, with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer saying it's not a distraction to the team. Safety Duron Harmon said that the absence of Gronkowski and Brady would not hinder the team in terms of reaching their full potential.

Backup QB Hoyer struggles

With Brady’s absence, Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling will handle quarterbacking duties in OTAs. According to Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com, Hoyer and Etling both struggled in the second day of OTAs, missing a number of easy throws. In 11-on-11 work, Hoyer went just 8-for-18 with an interception, while Etling was 3-for-6. Based on Hannable’s observations, Etling performed better than Hoyer, but committed several rookie mistakes. Assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski guided Etling throughout the session, as he wants the rookie to get better. Schuplinski is known for working with young quarterbacks in the Patriots’ system. Etling was the Patriots' seventh-round pick [VIDEO] in the 2018 NFL Draft.