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Here's a look at how the Patriots' first-year players are faring through 14 games:
CB Devin McCourty (first round): Few minor rib injuries were monitored more closely than the one that knocked McCourty out of the Pats' Week 14 game. But McCourty was healthy enough to start and had a big game, recording 10 tackles, including his first sack. He added another tackle for loss and a pass defensed.
TE Rob Gronkowski (second round): Gronkowski had just one catch, but it was a big one for 25 yards. He is one behind Bucs WR Mike Williams for the rookie lead in receiving touchdowns with seven.
OLB Jermaine Cunningham (second round): If there was a stat for getting to the quarterback, getting a hand on him but not bringing him down, Cunningham would be faring well in that category. He is getting to the QB but not piling up sacks. He had three tackles and a QB hit on Sunday night.
ILB Brandon Spikes (second round): Spikes served the second game of his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He reportedly tested positive for the amphetamines contained in Adderall, a drug for ADHD.
TE Aaron Hernandez (fourth round): Hernandez is returning to the top of Tom Brady's target list and put together a good game Sunday with four catches for 31 yards and two touchdowns. His second score gave the Pats the lead for good. While he won't challenge for Rookie of the Year, he will be ranked near the top of rookies in terms of receiving numbers.
P Zoltan Mesko (fifth round): With the offense struggling, Mesko had ample opportunities to boom punts, but he did not have a great day. His five punts had a net average of just 35.2. He placed one inside the 20 and had a long of 48 yards.
DE Brandon Deaderick (seventh round): Deaderick saw lots of snaps early but left the game with an injury. He did return but did not record a tackle.
LB Dane Fletcher (undrafted): The speedy linebacker saw lots of snaps on Sunday night with Spikes out. He recorded two tackles, including a sack. He added another QB hit.
DL Kyle Love (undrafted): With injuries piling up on the defensive line, Love saw his playing time increase. He recorded two tackles on the night.
Notes: S Sergio Brown (undrafted) was active but did not record a tackle. ... WR Taylor Price (third round) was inactive.