<
>

Cleaning out the camp notebook

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cleaning out the training camp notebook:

1. Receiver Donte' Stallworth is getting some quality reps, reflecting that he's right there in the competition for the No. 3 receiver spot with Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney. Stallworth also seemed to get a more extended look as a primary kickoff returner Sunday, which would be added value and could potentially help him solidify a roster spot. Stallworth hasn't returned a kickoff in a regular season game since 2003 (career stats here).

2. In the aftermath of Dane Fletcher's knee injury in Thursday's preseason opener, Bobby Carpenter and Mike Rivera were two linebackers noted as those who could see extended opportunity. Sunday was a reminder not to forget second-year player Jeff Tarpinian (7 games, 1 start in 2011). At one point in practice, he was playing alongside Brandon Spikes and Bobby Carpenter. Tarpinian played 35 snaps in the preseason opener, all in the second half, and finished with a team-high six tackles. A nice effort on which he can build.

3. Veteran left tackle Matt Light's retirement has opened the door for 2011 first-round pick Nate Solder to become the next long-term fixture at the position. Left guard Logan Mankins had high praise for Solder. "Nate is one of those guys that is going to do everything in his power to get better and to work hard," he said. "He’s always studying, always lifting, always running. If you’ve seen him, he’s in phenomenal shape. He’s a great athlete, and he has the mindset to work hard. He does what the coaches ask him. He does what older guys, the advice we give him, he takes it to heart and tries to do it. So Nate’s going to do a great job, and we expect him to do a great job."

4. It has appeared to be a quiet camp for veteran safety/cornerback Will Allen (5-10, 195), but he showed up on the radar a bit more Sunday. With James Ihedigbo (foot) not practicing, Allen was paired with rookie Tavon Wilson at safety. He has a similar physical makeup to Steve Gregory (5-11, 200) at the position, and fits best as more of a coverage safety.

5. A sign that veteran center Dan Koppen's roster spot is anything but a certainty: He was working with the team's most inexperienced linemen for most of Sunday's practice. The coaching staff had fourth-year man Ryan Wendell, who also plays on the wedge on the kickoff return unit, taking the top center reps. Wendell has quietly had a nice camp. The Patriots have been rotating at center on a daily basis.