Julian Edelman: This isn’t exactly a tough one. He had six catches for 90 yards, but his performance was about more than just the numbers. Edelman’s a different player than Wes Welker (despite all the comparisons), but that’s not a knock. He might be a little more explosive and better at shaking a defender in the phone booth. And Edelman posted a big punt return for good measure. The Patriots have to find ways to get him open-field touches after Welker returns.
Patrick Chung: You can see he’s added confidence in the decisiveness with which he’s playing. He delivered a big blow on Reggie Bush early, and came up hard to take down Lance Moore and stop him short on a third down. He was a tick late on another third down to Jeremy Shockey, but was aggressive on that one too. Not a bad beginning in his first chance as the primary option next to Brandon Meriweather.
Marques Murrell: It’s too early to draw any conclusions on Murrell. But he was able to beat Jon Stinchcomb one-on-one to get to Drew Brees on the game’s first play, and showed consistently he can turn the corner. It’s also worth noting that he and Tully Banta-Cain got help from good interior push.
Darius Butler: From a situational standpoint, with the opponent facing a fourth-and-6, taking the illegal contact penalty Butler did was unacceptable. He also got beat to the pylon by Reggie Bush on the Saints’ first touchdown, the result of taking a bad angle. It’s not like Butler was terrible overall, but playing with more discipline in key spots is important.
James Sanders: He’s clearly chasing Chung right now, and whiffed badly on Adrian Arrington on the Saint receiver’s 51-yarder. Sanders also took a holding penalty on a punt return. Not good for a guy who’s been known for his steadiness in the past.
Tyrone McKenzie: Bad sign No. 1 — He came into the game behind undrafted free agent Dane Fletcher. Bad sign No. 2 — Rookie Brandon Spikes played nearly the entire game. Bad sign No. 3 — He didn’t stick out on special teams. The 2009 third-round pick now looks like a man in a fight for his job.