Patriots rookie report: Week 12

Posted Nov. 30, 2010 @ 12:19 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

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

CB Devin McCourty (first round): Going against the likely Defensive Rookie of the Year, McCourty tossed his hat into the ring with a great performance on Turkey Day. McCourty had two interceptions, returning one of them 50 yards. His first pick came while on man coverage with Lions WR Calvin Johnson. McCourty added three tackles on special teams, as well.

TE Rob Gronkowski (second round): Gronkowski seems to be Tom Brady's new go-to tight end after deferring most of the looks to Aaron Hernandez earlier this season. Gronkwoski had five catches for 65 yards in last Thursday's win, including a 26-yard reception.

OLB Jermaine Cunningham (second round): Cunningham got some time playing defensive end, rushing off the edge in the team's sub package. He had three tackles on the game but still hasn't put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, something the Patriots are counting on for him to do.

ILB Brandon Spikes (second round): Spikes had three tackles and added a pass defensed, but he takes some of the blame for the Lions' success on the ground. Spikes will have a big challenge against the Jets on Monday night in stopping their backs while possibly having to cover TE Dustin Keller.

TE Aaron Hernandez (fourth round): It has been a couple weeks now since Hernandez has been the team's leading receiver after excelling to start the season. With the Patriots focusing more on the run game, Hernandez has seen less time on the field. He did have an 18-yard catch on third down against the Lions, but that was his only reception of the day.

P Zoltan Mesko (fifth round): Mesko had three punts for 153 yards against Detroit, dropping one inside the 20 and having a long of 53. His net average was 41.7 yards and his season net average is 39 yards, good for 10th in the league.

DE Brandon Deaderick (seventh round): Deaderick was a healthy scratch from the game, a bit of a surprise considering the team was already without DLs Myron Pryor and Mike Wright.

LB Dane Fletcher (undrafted free agent): Fletcher got some action in the team's sub package, totaling two tackles and a pass defensed. He continues to be the team's quarterback and running back spy in the flat in third-down situations. He added one special-teams tackle.

DL Kyle Love (UFA): Love saw his most significant playing time all season on defense, recording two tackles and a pass defensed. With injuries on the defensive line, Love saw a lot of snaps and has possibly passed up Deaderick on the team's depth chart.

Notes: WR Taylor Price (third round) was inactive.