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.
1. WR Julian Edelman: With the Patriots short on linebackers and defensive backs, Edelman saw an increased role on defense, playing in sub packages and even recording a tackle on third down. He also returned a punt 72 yards for a score, his first punt-return TD of the season. Edelman had a shaky middle of the season, when he was a healthy scratch and then was arrested on Halloween, but he clearly has the confidence of the staff to be a contributor on all three units.
2. RB Shane Vereen: The rookie from Cal had barely seen the field in his first 10 weeks but got to show off his skills in garbage time during the Patriots' final drive. Vereen had a 19-yard carry and rushed for a touchdown. Patriots fans had wondered if the second-round pick was a bust, but he certainly showed flashes with his opportunities.
3. Creating turnovers: The big reason the Patriots had the league's best record last season (14-2) was their ability to take the ball away and be opportunistic. The Pats' defensive backs took advantage of the Chiefs' inexperienced QB, Tyler Palko, by picking him off three times — two by Kyle Arrington and one by Philip Adams in the endzone. They entered the game with a plus-3 turnover margin on the season, a ratio that is now plus-5 (Tom Brady lost a fumble in the first half).
1. DE Shaun Ellis: The veteran free-agent acquisition had been losing snaps to DE Brandon Deaderick and was barely on the field Monday night. Deaderick got the start and recorded two tackles, while Ellis did not make the stat sheet.
2. ILB Gary Guyton: Guyton ended up starting and recording five tackles, but it says a lot about his abilities when Edelman, rather than Guyton, is playing in a linebacker spot in the nickel. With LBs Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher and Jeff Tarpinian all out, Guyton presumably would take a large role. Tracy White, a special-teams contributor, has been playing a lot. Guyton did not have any snaps in last week's win over the Jets.
3. OLG Logan Mankins' penalties: The Pro Bowler leads the team with eight penalties, picking up two last night. He has five false starts on the year and was flagged for a personal foul late in the game. Mankins showed why he is one of the best on a screen play in the second half, but his penalty numbers are a concern, as it slows down the Patriots' offense.