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Friday, September 2, 2011
3 up, 3 down for the Patriots

By Mike Reiss & Mike Rodak

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at three players whose performance stood out for the Patriots, and a look at three players who were at the opposite end of the spectrum based an initial reaction:

Up
Antwaun Molden --
Claimed on waivers Wednesday, the former Texans cornerback is thrown right into the mix -- first in sub packages and then in the regular defense -- and finishes with two passes defended. 

Rob Ninkovich -- Starting linebacker forces a fumble by receiver Domenik Hixon on the first defensive play of the game, which Patrick Chung recovers and returns to the 1, setting an early tone.

Matthew Slater -- Receiver has a 64-yard catch-and-run play in the first quarter is a demon on special teams with two solo tackles (one on kickoff coverage, one on punt coverage).

Down
Brandon Meriweather --
Safety doesn't play poorly when he's on the field, but the fact he is on the field deep into the fourth quarter -- and does not play until the second half when the backups were in the game -- is one of the big storylines of the night. 

Brandon Tate -- Possibly playing for his job, he enters at receiver after Matthew Slater and doesn't look explosive in the return game with two of his top competitors (Taylor Price, Julian Edelman) not dressed.

Tiquan Underwood -- Receiver who needed a strong special teams performance to have a shot at making the roster is penalized for an illegal substitution on a punt, costing the Patriots a chance to extend a drive when they recovered a muff but instead had to punt again.