Patriots stock report: Week Four

Posted Oct. 03, 2011 @ 4 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Every week, PFW associate editor and Patriots writer Kevin Fishbain will identify three up-and-comers and three players/units going in the opposite direction in the Patriots stock report.

Rising

1. DT Vince Wilfork: It's always a joy seeing a big man rumble with the football, and Wilfork's interception on Sunday gave us that thrill, and to think it was his second pick of the season! With Myron Pryor on injured reserve and Mike Wright and Albert Haynesworth battling injuries, Wilfork is being used like he was last season: rotating along the line and playing a heavy load of snaps, making an impact in the trenches.

2. CB Devin McCourty: It had been a tough opening three games for McCourty, who was getting targeted often, despite his seven interceptions as a rookie. McCourty gave up only one big play against the Raiders and made a couple nice tackles against the run, including a tackle for loss.

3. Offensive line: Going against a very physical Raiders front, the Patriots' O-line allowed only one sack and paved way for the team's best rushing output of the season: 183 yards on 30 carries (6.1 average). Nate Solder and Brian Waters had huge blocks on Stevan Ridley's touchdown run.

Falling

1. RB Danny Woodhead: With the success that Ridley has had in the past two weeks, it appears Woodhead will be getting fewer carries. He had two on Sunday and wasn't even targeted as a receiver. If Ridley can prove he can be a good blocker and receiver, Woodhead's role might continue to diminish.

2. S Sergio Brown: Brown still makes the mistakes of a youngster. The second-year safety is getting significant playing time in the secondary and made a couple gaffes on big pass plays by the Raiders on Sunday. Brown has to get better, as the team is frequently using nickel and dime packages.

3. TE Rob Gronkowski: A ticky-tack selection here, as this is likely just a blip on what has been a superb season for Gronkowski. He had only one catch for 15 yards on five targets, as the Raiders keyed on keeping him from beating them up the seam. If teams take note of what Oakland did, the Patriots and Gronkowski might have to get creative, but this doesn't appear to be a concern.