Here is a look at how the Patriots' first-year players performed in the team's Week 15 win over the Broncos.
OT Nate Solder (first round, 17th overall) — Solder got another start at right tackle and performed well in keeping the Broncos' rushers away from Tom Brady, for the most part. He blocked inside on the play in which Elvis Dumervil came in and crushed Brady, with OG Waters late to help on Dumervil, indicating Solder should have protected the outside rush. According to ESPN Boston, Solder played 19 snaps as an extra tight end, helping the run game get back on track.
RB Stevan Ridley (3, 72) — Ridley finally broke out of his slump and sparked the Patriots' rushing attack. He led the team with 11 carries for 65 yards (5.9 average), including a long of 24 yards. Ridley has all four of the team's rushes longer than 20 yards this season. He was on the field for 18 offensive snaps.
OT Marcus Cannon (5, 138) — Cannon remained in his role of replacing Solder when the team uses the three-TE look and held his ground against Dumervil and Von Miller.
Notes — RB Shane Vereen (2, 56) and QB Ryan Mallett (3, 73) were both inactive, with Vereen still suffering from a hamstring injury. … LS Danny Aiken (undrafted) remained perfect on snaps. … The team cut seventh-round DB Malcolm Williams last week.