- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At an initial glance, a look at the New England Patriots players whose performance was "up" and those at the opposite end of the spectrum in the team's 24-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers:
Kenbrell Thompkins -- Rookie receiver, who has slipped down the depth chart in recent weeks, re-emerges with some big catches.
Coverage units on special teams -- An area in which the Patriots had struggled before the bye, they were excellent, with Tavon Wilson delivering a big hit.
Danny Aiken -- Snapper has a few shaky deliveries.
Logan Mankins/Nate Solder -- Left guard has a personal foul penalty to push the Patriots back on their third drive, and left tackle is beaten for a sack that stalls the Patriots' promising first drive.
Stevan Ridley -- Running back fumbles in the second quarter as the Patriots are driving and remains on the sideline for the ensuing 18 plays as his ball-security issues come back to the forefront.
Sub defense vs. QB scrambles -- Some credit needs to go to Newton, who had some dynamic runs, but the Patriots struggle dto wrap up on third down as Newton makes plays with his legs.
Aqib Talib -- In his return to action after missing 3 1/2 games, cornerback struggles in his one-on-one matchup against Steve Smith, losing his cool at times. He does bat away a pass in the fourth quarter, so it isn't a complete knockout.
4hBy Jackie MacMullan