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Here's a look at how the Patriots' first-year players are faring through four games:
CB Devin McCourty (first round): The new top corner for the Patriots, considering the struggles of Darius Butler, McCourty had four tackles and a pass defended on Monday night. He also almost hauled in his first career interception. McCourty made a crucial open-field tackle when the Dolphins attempted a screen, very similar to a play he made against the Bills.
TE Rob Gronkowski (second round): Gronk did not record a catch Monday night but was on the field often, blocking for RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Head coach Bill Belichick also pointed out Gronkowski's blocking on WR Brandon Tate's kick-return TD.
OLB Jermaine Cunningham (second round): The former Gator got another start and played a majority of the game Monday night, showing he is likely at 100 percent after battling an ankle injury in the preseason. He recorded a tackle for loss and knocked down a pass at the line. The Patriots are very excited about Cunningham's potential, and he seems to understand their system.
ILB Brandon Spikes (second round): Spikes recorded just one tackle on Monday night but got another start. He will likely defer many tackles to fellow ILB Jerod Mayo, but it would be nice to see Spikes become part of the pass rush up the middle for the Patriots.
TE Aaron Hernandez (fourth round): The team's leader in receiving yards with 240 through four games, Hernandez had five catches for 29 yards on Monday night. He caught all five balls targeted at him and is making a run at being the first tight end ever to win Rookie of the Year.
P Zoltan Mesko (fifth round): Mesko, who was very shaky against the Bills, boomed a 60-yard punt on Monday night, only to follow it up with a 39-yarder. The Patriots' net punting average has drastically improved from its league-worst figure last season, but Mesko is still a work in progress.
Notes: DE Brandon Deaderick (seventh round) was active for the first time this season, recording two tackles. ... LB Dane Fletcher (UFA) also saw his first game action. ... WR Taylor Price (third round) has been inactive all season and is battling a foot injury. ... DL Kyle Love (UFA) was inactive.