FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cleaning out the notebook with a few quick-hit thoughts after watching the first day of mandatory minicamp:
1. Had this thought after watching rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard break up a pass intended for Jabar Gaffney down the right sideline -- the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Dennard might have a little Ellis Hobbs in him. Both a bit undersized, but they seem to compete well for the ball.
2. Didn't see to many screen passes in 2011 from the Patriots, and that was an area the offense worked on a bit on Tuesday. Perhaps the screen pass shows up more in 2012, highlighting a difference in approach between Bill O'Brien and Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. Rookie free agent running back Brandon Bolden has a reputation as more of an inside runner, but from this perspective, he also looked comfortable as a pass-catcher in the few times he was spotted releasing out of the backfield.
3. Tried to watch the rookies a little closer than normal, but even if that wasn't the plan, it would have been hard to miss defensive end Jake Bequette surging off the defensive left side in 11-on-11 work to register a "sack" in the end zone that would have been a safety. He got there quickly, which was his reputation at Arkansas. Tough to put much stock in a non-contact drill like that, but if you're a rookie, anything to get noticed helps.
4. Cornerback Kyle Arrington played a solid Super Bowl XLVI, working in the slot against Victor Cruz, and it seems like he's the first option to play that spot this season in sub packages. It will be interesting to see how the competition for the outside cornerback spot in the base defense unfolds, with Arrington and Ras-I Dowling the top candidates. I watched Dowling nicely defend and out-and-up move along the left sideline by receiver Brandon Lloyd.
5. At one point in 7 on 7 work, a group with tight end Aaron Hernandez and receivers Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch were joined by running back Shane Vereen. It's early, but a sign that bigger things are expected of Vereen this year.
6. Seeing a lot of linebacker Bobby Carpenter on the field. He's mostly playing off the line, where his athleticism shows up in space.
7. Watched first-round draft choice Chandler Jones closely, and when he plays in a two-point stance at the end of the line, his length stands out as his presence can be disruptive to passing lanes. Can't think of another player in Bill Belichick's tenure like that.