FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots' nine-player draft class in training camp:
Nate Solder (1st round, 17th overall) -- Took part in his first practice Thursday and his size stands out. When he sets in his stance, it is still difficult for defenders to see over him because of his height (6-foot-8). At one point, he got bull-rushed by defensive end Eric Moore in one-on-one blocking drills, driven back into the pocket. That led to some instant coaching from Dante Scarnecchia. On his next rep, Solder got his hands on sixth-round pick Markell Carter, extended his arms, and it was over.
Ras-I Dowling (2nd round, 33rd overall) -- Cornerback took part in just one practice and has been sidelined since. A slow start after arriving in camp late.
Shane Vereen (2nd round, 56th overall) -- Has been part of just 1 1/2 practices, leaving Wednesday night's session after pulling up. He looked fast in the time he was on the field.
Stevan Ridley (3rd round, 73rd overall) -- Of all rookies, he's had the most extended opportunity (along with TE Lee Smith), a result of arriving on time and being at a position (running back) where several players couldn't practice until Aug. 4. His hands look like a work in progress, while his running style is hard-charging.
Ryan Mallett (3rd round, 74th overall) -- He doesn't get a lot of reps behind quarterbacks Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. For example, on Thursday, he had just one play when the clubs were finishing up red-zone work. Some of his most extended time comes at the end of sessions when top-of-the-roster players are running on the second field. The ball comes out of his hands effortlessly. Mallett talked about his desire to improve footwork and he's already made some strides in that area.
Marcus Cannon (5th round, 138th overall) -- Has opened camp on the active/non-football injury list and thus hasn't practiced. Director of player personnel Nick Caserio said he's still working through some things, but it's been great for the team to have him around.
Lee Smith (5th round, 159th overall) -- Benefitting from being an on-time arrival, Smith was lining up next to Rob Gronkowski from Day 1 and looks primed to assume an Alge Crumpler-type blocking role in 2011. He's shown solid hands the few times footballs have been thrown in his direction.
Markell Carter (6th round, 194th overall) -- Has lined up at 4-3 defensive end and received some good second-team reps opposite rookie free agent Alex Silvestro. Watched him get tied up by Nate Solder on Thursday. Think he could benefit from a year in the team's strength program as he navigates the big jump from Central Arkansas to the NFL.
Malcolm Williams (7th round, 219th overall) -- With so many cornerbacks on the roster, his reps have been limited. The main area he shows up is special teams when the team breaks down and focuses on that area of the game.
ROOKIE FREE AGENTS: In terms of repetitions, defensive end Alex Silvestro (Rutgers) and tight end Will Yeatman (Maryland) have received more opportunity than one might think for an undrafted player. But overall, more time is needed to assess this crop of undrafted players.