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Friday, August 12, 2011
3 up, 3 down for the Patriots

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Three players whose performance caught the eye at first glance, and three players whose performance seemed to dip in the Patriots' preseason-opening win over the Jaguars:

Up
Dane Fletcher
-- After making the club as a rookie free agent last year out of Montana State, he has come a long way. He leads the huddle and finishes tied for the team-high with five tackles, two of which come behind the line of scrimmage.

Taylor Price -- Second-year receiver totals a team-high 105 yards on five catches, including a dazzling 11-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. He is hard on himself at the end of the game, pointing out some hard-to-notice errors he made, but the overall performance solidifies his hold on a backup spot.

Stevan Ridley -- Hard-charging rookie running back plays with a purpose, finishing with three touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving). At 5-foot-11, 225-pounds, he runs with power.

Down
Darius Butler --
Cornerback plays deep into the fourth quarter and ties for the team lead with five tackles, which isn't a good sign. He's had a long fall from when he was a 2010 opening-day starter.

Aaron Hernandez -- Tight end looks good catching the ball, but fumbles twice in the first quarter, one of which he recovers. The sloppy ball security could have cost the Patriots a touchdown, as one of the fumbles came at the goal-line.

Jonathan Wilhite -- Cornerback plays deep into the fourth quarter and seems a step behind in coverage. Also is penalized for an illegal block that nullifies Taylor Price's big punt return.