Cleaning out the Patriots notebook

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cleaning out the Patriots notebook...

1. Don't be surprised if rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett enters Thursday's game against the Buccaneers before Brian Hoyer, if Hoyer plays at all. That's the way the quarterback reps have been split for most of this week, but I don't think it reflects any type of change on the depth chart. Instead, this will be a chance for the Patriots to see how Mallett responds on the road, and how he builds on his solid performance in the preseason opener. The Patriots have already seen Hoyer, now in his third season, in that environment.

2. Every year, there is a rookie free agent who catches the eye and surprises to make the roster. One name to keep on the radar this week -- tight end Will Yeatman. It looks like coaches are going to take a long look at him Thursday night as he has been lining up next to Rob Gronkowski in recent practices (over fifth-round pick Lee Smith). Yeatman is a former lacrosse player.

3. One thought came to mind after interviewing defensive end Andre Carter with others in recent days -- classy veteran.

4. Bill Belichick doesn't seem like the biggest fan of the NFL's competition committee, and when he has a chance, he sometimes tosses a firecracker in its direction. He did so on Tuesday, relaying that he was told back in March that the league is trying to eliminate the kickoff by moving it up 5 yards. Belichick isn't in favor of the change and was passionate when speaking about it back in March. Later in the day, members of the NFL's competition committee were explaining themselves to NFL reporters like Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

5. Second-year safety Sergio Brown said all the right things Tuesday when asked about receiving some first-unit repetitions in the last two practices. His reaction to the change is that he doesn't have a reaction. He said he'll always feel like he's still fighting for a roster spot.