Patriots Notebook: Improved Performances

Just how are the Patriots doing this year? Here's a snapshot of some of the key contributors and their recent performances, including more team news and notes.

Notes:
--QB Tom Brady has returned from major knee injury to impressive results. He's thrown 15 touchdowns in seven games and is on pace for a 4,000-yard season. With the knee injury now in the past, Brady is most excited by how his arm felt at the bye week. "I feel the best I've ever felt," Brady told WEEI 850-AM in Boston.

--RB Laurence Maroney led New England's running game at the bye with 265 yards on 61 attempts (4.3 average) with two touchdowns. The fourth-year runner could be leaned on a bit more to open the second half of the season as Sammy Morris (knee) and Fred Taylor (ankle) continue to work back from injuries.

--WR Randy Moss' team-leading 565 receiving yards in seven games rank ninth in the NFL through Week 8.

--WR Wes Welker's team-leading 46 catches in seven games have him tied for fourth in the NFL through Week 8.

--TE Benjamin Watson has four touchdown catches in seven games, on just 15 total receptions. The former first-round pick is well on his way to a career high, likely to surpass his six touchdown receptions registered in 2007.

--S Brandon Meriweather led New England at the bye with 47 tackles, while tying for the team lead with a pair of interceptions.

--CB Darius Butler, a second-round pick out of UConn, is the only other Patriot with multiple picks through the first seven games.

--LB Pierre Woods has seen limited, rotational action on defense in his fourth season. But the former undrafted player has been a key on special teams, with a team-best 10 tackles in the kicking game, including nine solo stops.

--DT Ron Brace, a second-round pick, has seen limited action in the first half of the season while sixth-round DT Myron Pryor has made his way into the regular defensive line rotation. But defensive coordinator Dean Pees isn't yet worried about Brace's development.

"Ron is working hard," Pees said of Brace. "He's learning the system. It's just been a matter of us trying to say who kind of fits the role that we need this week in this particular spot. It may not necessarily have anything to do with whether Ron has not done or has done well. It's more a fact of, this guy kind of fits what we want there.

"He's doing a good job. It's just a matter of, you never know when you might see him. There's nothing negative there."

--DT Mike Wright leads New England with four sacks in seven games, taking advantage of increased playing time to double his previous four-year career total of four sacks.

--DT Ty Warren was carted off with a right ankle injury against the Bucs in London, but coming out of the bye he indicated that he expects to play Sunday against Miami. "I'm feeling pretty good about my situation," Warren said on WEEI 850-AM. "I'm feeling OK."

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