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Patriots rookie report: Week Six

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Oct. 19, 2010 @ 6:48 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a look at how the Patriots' first-year players are faring through five games:

CB Devin McCourty (first round): McCourty had a big pass defended in overtime on third down Sunday, knocking down a pass headed toward Ravens TE Todd Heap. McCourty has yet to have a mistake-free game, but a lot is being asked of him, manning up on the opposing team's top receiver.

TE Rob Gronkowski (second round): Gronkowski had one reception, but it was a big one, going for 24 yards. Tom Brady threw two TD passes to "Gronk" in the first three games but has yet to target him in the red zone since then.

OLB Jermaine Cunningham (second round): The former Gator had his best game, recording six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He is quickly becoming the Pats' best pass rusher and has seen his playing time increase each game.

ILB Brandon Spikes (second round): Spikes joined his fellow Florida alum in having a career game, recording 14 tackles, including two on special teams. Spikes and Cunningham get credit for slowing down Ravens RB Ray Rice.

TE Aaron Hernandez (fourth round): Hernandez had four catches for 61 yards but had two drops in overtime, his first drops of the season. On both occasions, Hernandez looked to turn upfield before hauling in the pass. He still leads the Pats and all rookies with 301 receiving yards.

P Zoltan Mesko (fifth round): After some shaky punts to start the season, Mesko made a huge impact in Week Six. Pinned at their own 12-yard line in overtime, it looked like the Ravens would get the necessary field position to win. But Mesko boomed a 65-yard punt to the Ravens' 19-yard line, helping the Pats win the field-position battle and, a few minutes later, the game.

DE Brandon Deaderick (seventh round): Deaderick got his first career start and recorded two tackles, including a sack. Starting at left end, Deaderick used his large frame to get into the Ravens' backfield. It was just Deaderick's second game active, showing he impressed during the bye week.

LB Dane Fletcher (UFA): When Rice was stopped in the open field on a great tackle by Fletcher late in the game, most people watching turned around and said, "Who?" Fletcher was active for the second time this season and put himself in position for another stop on the very next play, but Rice couldn't catch the pass from QB Joe Flacco. We could start seeing more of the Montana State rookie on third downs.

Notes: WR Taylor Price (third round) was inactive again. He's battled a foot injury, and with the addition of WR Deion Branch, his services won't be needed as quickly as once thought when Randy Moss was traded. ... DL Kyle Love (UFA) was inactive. ... The Patriots re-signed S Ross Ventrone (UFA) to the practice squad on Tuesday.

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