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Patriots rookie report: Week Nine

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 09, 2010 @ 4:42 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

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

CB Devin McCourty (first round): Sunday's loss did not start out well for McCourty, who lost out on a jump ball to Browns TE Evan Moore. The ball hung up in the air and it looked like McCourty could have at least deflected it. Instead, it led to a Browns touchdown. McCourty had six tackles in the loss.

TE Rob Gronkowski (second round): No one will want to forget Sunday's game more than Gronkowski. In the first quarter, he called fair catch on a kickoff and let the ball hit the ground. The Browns recovered the fumble and scored a TD two plays later. Gronkowski had a chance to redeem himself at the close of the half, fighting for more yards toward the goal line on a reception. But the rookie fumbled, killing a likely scoring drive. He also had a few drops in the game.

OLB Jermaine Cunningham (second round): Cunningham was the only Patriots defensive player who knew what was happening on a Browns trick play that resulted in a TD. Unfortunately, Cunningham was opposite of where the ball was going, and he couldn't track the ball down in time. He finished with three tackles, but Cunningham is being counted on to pressure the QB, and the Pats recorded zero sacks and zero QB hits.

ILB Brandon Spikes (second round): After being run over by Browns RB Peyton Hillis on a short TD run, Spikes redeemed himself later with a stop of Hillis. But his eight tackles were generally following a considerable gain by Hillis, who rushed for 184 yards. The Florida alum is on pace for 100 tackles this season, but along with the rest of the Pats' defense, he did not have his best game on Sunday.

TE Aaron Hernandez (fourth round): Hernandez finally found the endzone, scoring two receiving touchdowns. The first was quite the play, as a tipped ball went into the air and Hernandez leapt to bring it down while keeping his feet in-bounds. He led the Patriots with five catches for 48 yards, including a long of 22. Hernandez is second among rookies in receiving yards.

P Zoltan Mesko (fifth round): The special teams did not perform well on Sunday, Mesko included. After a few solid games, Mesko's five punts had a net average of 33.8 yards. He recorded one touchback and dropped one punt inside the 20. His 36-yard punt at the end of the first quarter gave the Browns great field position.

DE Brandon Deaderick (seventh round): It didn't seem as though Deaderick saw as many snaps as he had the previous couple games, which is a surprise considering the type of runner Hillis is. But Deaderick, like the rest of the defensive line, did little to push the Browns' offensive line around. The Alabama grad recorded two tackles.

LB Dane Fletcher (seventh round): Fletcher recorded one special-teams tackle on Sunday. The Patriots rarely had their sub package on the field, so Fletcher's snaps decreased. Although, the speedy linebacker could have helped add some pressure to Colt McCoy.

Notes: WR Taylor Price (third round) and DL Kyle Love (UFA) were held inactive.

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