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Patriots stock report: Week 17

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

Dolphins snag former Ravens LB Ellerbe

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:59 p.m.

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Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:13 p.m.

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Posted March 12, 2013 @ 4:48 p.m.

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Posted Jan. 02, 2012 @ 4:05 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. DB Sterling Moore: Subbing in for CB Kyle Arrington, Moore made a big impact in the second half. The undrafted rookie picked off two passes, returning one of those for a touchdown. Moore has bounced back and forth between the practice squad and active roster, and certainly made his push to remain on the team for the playoff run.

2. TE Aaron Hernandez: His mate Rob Gronkowski is getting all the credit this year, and it's            well deserved, but Hernandez finished his second season with his best game, going 7-138-1. Hernandez had 79 catches for 910 yards and seven scores this season, and continues to be a favorite target of Tom Brady's because of his ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

3. P Zoltan Mesko: He only had two punts, but Mesko continued his consistency in pinning teams back. He averaged 48.5 yards a punt, with a net average of 46.0 yards, and dropped one inside the 20. Mesko finished the season third in the NFL with a net punting average of 41.5 yards and 24 of his 57 punts landed inside the 20-yard line.

Falling

1. Pass protection: The O-line is a shuffling unit, but that's not much of an excuse for allowing four sacks and three QB hits to the league's worst pass-rushing team, the Bills. This will be a key thing to watch in the playoffs, especially considering the pass-rushing prowess of the rest of the AFC's postseason teams.

2. CB Antwaun Molden: Molden had a big pass-interference penalty in the first quarter that set up a Bills touchdown. He also got flagged for illegal use of hands on a third-down play, which gave the Bills a first down. Molden did have six tackles and an interception.

3. Fast starts: The Patriots' continued their trend of struggling to get off to a fast start, on either side of the football. The Bills scored 21 first-quarter points on the Patriots, who punted on their first two possessions. The Pats can't afford to spot teams like the Ravens or Steelers 21 points come playoff time.

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