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Patriots stock report: Week 12

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Nov. 28, 2011 @ 12:49 p.m. ET
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. WRs Wes Welker and Deion Branch: TE Rob Gronkowski had been the playmaking receiver in the passing game the past several weeks, and against an Eagles secondary with a strength at corner, not safety, the assumption was Week 12 would be the same. But Welker and Branch both reminded the rest of the league how dynamic the Patriots' offense can be. Welker had eight catches for 115 yards and two scores, including a 41-yard touchdown when he got loose behind the defense. Branch had the longest play of the day — a 63-yard catch and run, and totaled 125 yards receiving. The receivers combined for 22 targets.

2. CBs Kyle Arrington and Antwaun Molden: It wasn't perfect, but the Patriots' corners played well against some talented Philly receivers. Molden had good coverage on DeSean Jackson and picked off an underthrown Vince Young pass. Arrington led the team with 10 tackles and two passes defensed.

3. OT Nate Solder: The Patriots continue to utilize Solder as much as possible in the run game, and the rookie has shined with his versatility. According to ESPN Boston, Solder played in 18 offensive snaps — 14 of which came in the first half when the Pats were pounding the rock against the Eagles. Solder then played right tackle in the second half when Sebastian Vollmer had to leave with an ankle injury.

Falling

1. WR Taylor Price: The question of the day on Monday is what's wrong with Price? The second-year receiver, whom the team was very high on, did not get a single offensive snap despite being active. To make matters worse for Price, recently signed Tiquan Underwood split the snaps as the team's No. 3 receiver. When Chad Ochocinco was ruled out on Saturday, the presumption was Price could step in, but the youngster clearly still has work to do.

2. Pass protection: It got better as the game went on, as it did last week against Kansas City, but the Patriots' O-line needs to do a better job of keeping Tom Brady upright. The Eagles had only one sack and two QB hits according to the stats, but their defensive line was getting to Brady often early in the game.

3. PK Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal wide right in the first half, his fourth miss of the season and second miss on a field goal from less than 40 yards away. Gostkowski is generally automatic and his kicking shouldn't be a huge concern, but he is nearing a career-high in missed field goals — he missed six kicks in his rookie season in 2006.

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