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Patriots relying on newcomers in secondary

November 17, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—New England's defensive backs are trying to prepare for a quarterback they've hardly seen.

The same can be said of Kansas City's Tyler Palko getting ready for the Patriots' secondary, which has been spread thin by recent injuries.

"Whenever you're number is called, you just have to adapt. See your role and just be ready," said cornerback Kyle Arrington, one of New England's few defensive backs who hasn't been knocked out of the lineup this season. "You always have to prepare like you're going to be out there."

Sterling Moore is coming off his first career start and preparing for may be his second in a row. A cornerback the Patriots picked up after he was released by Oakland, stepped in at safety as Patrick Chung was out with a foot injury.

Antwaun Molden, who was claimed off waivers in September, had to take over at corner when starter Devin McCourty injured his right his shoulder during the first half of a win over the Jets.

If Chung and McCourty are still out Monday, the Patriots will have to rely once again on some of their newest players when they host the Chiefs on Monday night.

"It's a great opportunity for us to continue the success that we had in the secondary last week," Moore said before practice Thursday.

The Patriots will be going up against Palko, who is making his first career start and has played in only two games this season. There isn't a lot of video to review on Palko, who replaced former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.

The patched-up secondary helped keep New York's Mark Sanchez in check as the Patriots won 37-16. Sanchez passed for 306 yards, but completed only 20 of 39 passes and was intercepted twice by linebacker Rob Ninkovich.

Backup safety Josh Barrett was placed on injured reserve last week, opening a spot on the active roster for Moore, an undrafted free agent who went through training camp with the Raiders but was a late cut.

"It was kind of hectic last week, especially earlier in the week knowing that I might have a chance to get out there. A lot more playbook study and a lot more film watching. It's nothing that I'm not too used to," Moore said. "I'm definitely getting a lot more comfortable with the guys that I'm back there with. I know we've got a lot of interchanging parts but we're pretty comfortable with who we've got back there."

The Patriots have also been using cornerback Phillip Adams the last few weeks. He has been off and on the active roster since the Patriots picked him up in September after he was released by San Francisco.

New England started another undrafted rookie at linebacker last week when Jeff Tarpinian stepped in for Brandon Spikes. Tarpinian was actually more experienced than some of his newer teammates, subbing in six games before getting the start.

Even with all the new faces, the New England defense had one of its best games of the season. It wasn't enough to bump the Patriots from last place on the NFL total defense standings, but the Patriots played well enough to win and take control of the AFC East.

Andre Carter, another newcomer to New England, set a franchise record with 4 1-2 sacks and was named AFC defensive player of the week. The Patriots picked up the veteran as a free agent in August.

"All these guys, I'm talking offense, defense, special teams -- this team -- works very, very hard. When you have a guy go out and put up a performance like Andre did, you can't be nothing but happy for him," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "To be good you have to be able to make adjustments at times. We've handled it well so far and hopefully we can continue to get better."

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