Quick-hit thoughts after second quarter

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots lead the Broncos 17-7 at halftime of their Week 5 matchup. Passing along notes and observations from the second quarter.

1. Brady to Welker the connection. Tom Brady and Wes Welker are locked in thus far, as the QB-WR duo has hooked up for nine catches, including three in the second quarter. Safe to say Welker remains the integral piece of the offense his coaches and teammates spoke of after his slow start to the season.

2. Vereen gets second career TD. Running back Shane Vereen, used sparingly during the team's Week 4 drubbing on Buffalo, scooted in for a short score to put the Patriots up 14-7. It was the first touchdown of his season, and it marked the conclusion of a drive in which the Patriots' ability to control the Broncos' defensive personnel gave the visitor fits. Hard to overstate how important the tempo is to New England's offense, and how efficient Brady & Co. are in controlling it.

3. Dennard takes first NFL snaps. Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, shelved for much of training camp with a hamstring injury, made his NFL debut in the second quarter, working as the right cornerback in the Patriots' sub defense. He replaced Sterling Moore, who has worked as the primary nickel corner in recent weeks. Dennard made his presence felt with a pass break up to halt a Broncos' drive in Patriots territory.

4. Offense nearly marches distance of the field. A beautiful punt from Britton Colquitt left the Patriots pinned at their own 1-yard line with roughly five minutes to play in the first half, but Tom Brady and his offense were able to maneuver the football down to the Broncos' 5-yard line, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski put a kick through the uprights in the closing moments of the half.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties during the second quarter: cornerback Devin McCourty (pass interference).