FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady was already the oldest player on the Patriots roster before he stepped out on the practice field for training camp Thursday.

He spent the abbreviated workout being constantly reminded he’s now a 40-year-old quarterback.

From a sculpture spelling out “G.O.A.T.” that was erected near the entrance of the practice field gate to multiple chants of his name to sporadic “Happy Birthday” serenades from spectators – everything revolved around No. 12 and his 40th birthday.

“It’s fun. It reminds you that Tom’s old. Very old,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “But I think he has a lot of fun with it. A lot of guys sung ‘Happy Birthday’ in the locker room. But it’s also a reminder of how good he’s been. Forty years old and still our best player.”

With his first start of 2017 Brady will become the 20th quarterback in NFL history to appear in a game at 40 or older.

McCourty has been a member of the Patriots since 2010, and is familiar with the fanfare that trails Brady every Aug. 3. So even with the elevated displays, he said he never expected Brady to make a big deal about turning 40.

“He’s not into birthday parties. So we just do whatever he allows us to do,” McCourty said.

Brady did manage to work up a sweat in front of all the birthday displays.

Notably, he and the rest of the projected first-team offense spent a large portion of the session working on an adjacent field out of view from fans and partially obscured from the media.

They were joined by the starting secondary, though it was unclear exactly what they were doing.

Brady and the others rejoined the rest of the team after about 45 minutes and Coach Bill Belichick called the squad to the middle of the field. After a brief huddle, they formed a horseshoe around Brady and led one final rendition of “Happy Birthday” as fans joined in.

When practice ended, Brady ran over to the bleachers and spent about 10 minutes signing autographs and taking pictures before jogging off the field.

“There’s nowhere else he wants to spend it besides the football field,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “But it’s just unbelievable how he’s turning 40 and just where he’s at right now is just unreal.”

Asked Wednesday what he planned to get his quarterback for his birthday, Gronk said he could only think of one thing.

“I get him touchdowns,” he said. “You’ve got to catch the ball. That’s all he wants – his receivers, tight ends, running backs to catch the ball.”

Brady has yet to address the media since camp began, but Belichick was deadpan when asked before practice if the team planned anything special for him for his birthday.

“Like the parade?” Belichick said.

But even as Brady has gotten older, his coach said nothing has changed about his approach.

“I mean, he’s had a great career, he works hard, comes to work every day. It’s been like that for a long time,” Belichick said. “I don’t want to say you take it for granted, but I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s like a big shock that he’s going to walk in here today and be prepared and go out and perform and give us his best.”

If Jimmy Garoppolo is feeling any insecurity or discomfort as Brady’s backup quarterback, he’s doing a great job hiding it.

Garoppolo has been as sharp as Brady in drills and situational plays and his calmness in the pocket is a major strength.

Garoppolo is one snap away from playing. The problem is that that one snap hasn’t occurred since 2008 – not including the commissioner’s suspension.

The Patriots appear to have an offense that won’t rely on Gronkowski as much as it has over the last three seasons. Remember, the Patriots were 6-2 with Gronk last season and 11-0 without.

But that’s not to discount his importance as a game-changer, especially in the red zone or the middle of the field.

Gronk is getting a lot of breaks at camp as the coaching staff focuses on the other tight ends. That includes Dwayne Allen, who was acquired from the Colts, where he had 35 catches for 406 yards and 6 TDs last year.

It is going to be a big summer of exhibition games for Kony Ealy, a defensive end acquired by the Patriots just before the 2017 draft. The Patriots got Ealy and a third-round pick (72nd overall) for their second-round pick (64th overall).

Ealy appears to be digging himself out of a hole, which may have been dug in mini-camp. He spent some time with the “JV” defense on the left practice field, while most of the perceived first-stringers were on the right practice field.

Ealy, 25, is big (6-4, 275) and strong. He was a star defensive player with the Panthers in their Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, but overall was a disappointment as a second-round pick.

For the Patriots, it was a gamble worth taking, giving the defense more depth.

Ealy, who smiles a lot, has a lot of work to do.

Cyrus Jones is a talent. He was drafted in the second round by the Patriots last year after helping Alabama to a national title.

He was supposed to be a possible starting cornerback and a No. 1 punt returner. He was neither.

Jones, almost embarrassingly, appeared to have lost his senses against the Ravens. In the third quarter, Jones botched two punts, one a fumble.

A special teams assistant has been working with him nearly every day, alone, on catching punts, which he does on the left side of his chest.

Jones only returned 11 punts last year and it wasn’t pretty: a 4.2-yard average and four fumbles and three fair catches. But Belichick would like him to take the job and give Edelman a much-needed break.