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Friday, August 20, 2010
Special teams breakdown

By Mike Reiss

ATLANTA -- When looking for surprise candidates to make the Patriots' final roster, special teams is a good place to start. With this in mind, here is a look at the club's "Big Four" in Thursday's preseason win over the Falcons:

Punt coverage: Sergio Brown, Kyle Arrington, Brandon McGowan, Eric Alexander, Rob Ninkovich, Jake Ingram, Pierre Woods, Jerod Mayo, Sam Aiken, Patrick Chung, Zoltan Mesko

Punt return: Darius Butler, Kyle Arrington, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, James Sanders, Aaron Hernandez, Eric Alexander, Rob Ninkovich, Sam Aiken, Pierre Woods, Brandon Tate

Kickoff coverage: Kyle Arrington, Brandon McGowan, Devin McCourty, Pierre Woods, Eric Alexander, Rob Ninkovich, Sergio Brown, Sam Aiken, Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Stephen Gostkowski

Kickoff return: Sam Aiken, Tyrone McKenzie, Marques Murrell, Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods, Brandon McGowan, Alge Crumpler, Dan Connolly, Aaron Hernandez, Sammy Morris, Brandon Tate

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: Alexander's presence on the "Big Four" could give him the edge over someone like Tyrone McKenzie for a roster spot, especially considering Alexander entered the game before McKenzie on defense at inside linebacker. ... With players like Matthew Slater and Bret Lockett injured, it's given rookie free-agent safety Sergio Brown a chance to open some eyes. ... Kyle Arrington's value on special teams -- playing on three of the four units -- gives him the edge if he's competing for a cornerback spot against someone like Terrence Wheatley.