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5 New England Patriots Players Who Have Earned More Playing Time

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Five Patriots Players Who Have Earned More Playing Time

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s game was one for the ages, as the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos 34-31 to win in overtime. The game meant more than just a win though.

This was the 11th game in the Patriots' season, which means that the season is almost 75 percent completed. Player evaluations are starting to become more concrete. Patriots coaches, and even fans know who is good and who is not.

Some players are more vital than others. Even though some Patriots players started the season as starters, it is now time to consider doing what is best for the team despite how much certain players are getting paid.

Fortunately enough, there aren’t too many problems with a team that is 8-3. The offense has been inconsistent, but has improved lately due to the return of key players. Meanwhile, the defense has been the exact opposite. When healthy, it was stout, but injuries have really started to take a toll.

Still, there is a good amount of depth on this team. Three starting defenders -- Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly -- are out for the season, yet Bill Belichick has been able to at least use a plug-and-play approach with some effective players. They are not as effective as the wounded, but are still serviceable.

Even with all of these injuries, there are still players who are currently backups, but can be key cogs down the stretch. These players exist on both sides of the football. Let’s see who they are.

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5. Jamie Collins

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Collins played fairly well against the Denver. His athleticism is certainly an asset, and can be used on passing downs.

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4. Kenbrell Thompkins

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Thompkins had a positive contribution for the second straight game, this time stealing snaps from Aaron Dobson. While that is not advisable, Thompkins has to see the field more.

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3. Duron Harmon

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Harmon had a bit of a rough game against Denver, but that is understandable considering he was a rookie going up against Peyton Manning. He’s been pretty solid otherwise, showing a good amount of athleticism, range and intelligence.

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2. Shane Vereen

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Vereen played the most snaps of any running back last night, but it’s time for him to be running the ball more. He appears to be the Patriots' most reliable running back right now.

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1. Logan Ryan

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Ryan should have been named a starter awhile ago. Even still, Belichick seems content to stick with Kyle Arrington as the nickel cornerback. Playing Ryan over Arrington will give Belichick the best chance to win.