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Thursday, December 30, 2010
Cleaning out the Patriots notebook

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Picked-up pieces from around the New England Patriots:

1. Defensive end Eric Moore wasn't expecting this. After signing a two-year contract on Dec. 3, he was on the field for 56 of 62 snaps against the Bills. "I was surprised," he acknowledged Thursday. After playing in 4-3 defenses throughout his career before arriving in New England, Moore described his thoughts on playing in the 3-4 for the first time this way: "It's exciting. You're always learning. In a 4-3, you know where you are going to be and who you are going to be going up against. In this defense right here, you never know -- you could be dropping [into pass coverage], you could be rushing. You have to study everybody."

2. In a reflection of how the tight end position has become a vital part of the team's attack, the Patriots have run 584 plays this season with at least two tight ends on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking. That is easily a league high, with the next team on the list at 431.

3. Outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich is a good example of a player who had hit a low point in his career, but didn't let it keep him down. He was reflective in the locker room Thursday when asked about his career progression and what it was like to be cut by the Saints as a long snapper in July of 2009. "That was probably the most discouraging part of my career," he said. "You go from a defensive lineman to a long snapper, and then getting cut before camp even started to even show you can do it." Ninkovich landed in New England and now he's a starter in the 3-4 defense.

4. The Patriots are second in the NFL with 36 dropped passes. Only the Lions (40) have more, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking.

5. The Patriots have gained 48.1 percent of their passing yards after the initial catch this season. That ranks 11th in the NFL.