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Patriots Blog: The Good And Bad Surprises So Far

By Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
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Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

levan-reid-grad-420x316 Levan Reid
Levan Reid is a veteran sports reporter who has joined the WB...
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BOSTON (CBS) – With any NFL season a team is bound to have some suprises, both good and bad.

Here are some of the good surprises the Pats have had in the first half of the season:

Rob Ninkovich

Many people thought that after the Pats drafted Dont’a Hightower, Ninkovich would play a smaller role.  That assessment could not have been further off.  The Pats linebacker has four sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in just eight games so far. When the Pats need a big play on defense, it always seems like Ninkovich is the on making it.

Now the task is to keep it going, because the Patriots are going to need more of that down the stretch.

Brandon Bolden

No one knew what the Pats were going to get from the undrafted rookie running back.  He looked good in training camp, but no one was sure how would that translate come game time.  He’s missed time with an injury, but when Bolden was out there on the field he was a force.  He averaged 5.4 per carry and was a great compliment to Stevan Ridley.

I’m not the only one saying this, but Bolden may be a huge piece to this Pats offense when he gets back.

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Chandler Jones

Sure, everybody thought he would be good. But to get out there and get the job done immediately is another story.  In eight games this season, Jones leads the Pats with six sacks.  I can’t count how many pressures he’s had and he’s caused numerous holding penalties as well.  His game will grow, but already in his first half of a season, Chandler Jones has become a force.

With the good comes the bad. Here are the surprises the Patriots would like us not to talk about so far this season:

Patrick Chung

The third-year safety has been a huge let-down for the first half of this year.  Chung is once again hurt, and when he’s on the field he’s getting beat.  The Pats use their safeties to cover tight ends, and Chung has not been able to do that.  Against the Buffalo Bills, Scott Chandler toasted him for two scores.

I’m not sure when Chung will get better, or return to the lineup, but his spot may be up in the air now that the Pats have moved Devin McCourty to safety.

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Aaron Hernandez

Hard to believe the tight end would show up here, but hear me out on this.  Hernandez is great but every year, the injury bug has consistently snuck up on him and he is once again missing games.  For the Patriots offense to run, all the major parts have to be in there.

With Hernandez, you have to make contingency plans. Hernandez at the midpoint of the season has 17 catches for only 143 yards.  That’s a Wes Welker afternoon.

Pats Secondary

As a whole, the New England secondary has got to do better.  They have let up 40 passing plays of 20 or more yards so far this season, a stat that is flat-out crazy.  Getting beat by the big play is how the Patriots lost to Seattle and Baltimore, and one of the main reasons they are 5-3 and instead of 6-2 or 7-1.

The back-end has got to be tighter, and it’s infuriating to watch so many guys having trouble turning around and looking for the ball.  The insertion of Alfonso Dennard and Tavon Wilson has helped, but right now,  the secondary is the Pats glaring weakness at the midpoint of the season.

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Follow Levan Reid on CBSBostonsports.com and on Twitter @LevanReid all Patriots’ season long!

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