Every first-year player carries high hopes of contributing right away, but those dreams don't always pan out. A substitute role makes more sense initially, veterans are ahead of you, or injuries prove troublesome.
And then a breakthrough comes.
That's where these 10 players throughout New England find themselves as the regular season winds down. They've emerged as vital components of their respective team's hunt for postseason silverware. Encouraging signs were always there, but they never truly blossomed until this fall.