After scanning the Patriots' snap counts from the team's week 15 victory over the Miami Dolphins, here are a few things that stood out on each side of the ball:
1. Marcus Cannon worked in rather frequently as an extra offensive lineman, registering 16 total snaps on the day (25%). However, he didn't operate as an end-of-line player, instead moving to LT with Nate Solder flexing out to tight end. Because of this, Solder reported eligible and would have to come off for a play when the Patriots moved out of that package (Solder was replaced by Cannon for eight plays because of this). After Dan Connolly's late-game neck injury, Josh Kline came on for 18 snaps at left guard. Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer all went wire-to-wire.
2. Running back Jonas Gray saw his most extensive playtime since his breakout game against the Colts. LeGarrette Blount saw nine of his 15 snaps in the first half, with Gray coming on for the majority of second half reps (19 total). Shane Vereen once again led all Patriots backs in snaps, with 31 (48%).
3. Tim Wright, Danny Amendola, and Brian Tyms all saw similar playing time as the extra receiver in the offense. Wright played 18 snaps, Amendola 12, and Tyms 11. None of the three produced much. Amendola had the only catch between them - an 11 yard grab on a 3rd down. Tyms was targeted on one deep throw that came up empty. Wright wasn't targeted once.
1. Chris Jones picked up a fair amount of snaps early in the base 4-3, playing over Akeem Ayers for 25 snaps (and Chandler Jones, who returned from injury). In sub-packages, Ayers did mix in quite a bit. He played a little bit of an off-the-line role, and also played on the edge with Chandler Jones sliding inside at times. He picked up 31 total snaps, and will be a key depth piece down the stretch. While in the base, Jonathan Casillas picked up 10 total snaps, and continued to flash. Dont'a Hightower, returning from a shoulder injury, immediately went wire-to-wire (along with Jamie Collins).
2. If you thought the return of Chandler Jones would have meant some relief for Rob Ninkovich, you were mistaken. Ninkovich went wire-to-wire, tallying 78 snaps. He had an effective performance, picking up a sack and a pass deflection that was nearly an interception. With Chandler Jones likely returning to a full-time role in the next week or two, we'll see if the Patriots finally find a way to get Ninkovich some rest. He's a workhorse, but a few snaps off could benefit him during 4th quarters.
3. The Patriots continued to mix and match in their secondary. As has become custom, the trio of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Devin McCourty all played 100% of the snaps. Patrick Chung was in for 82% of the game (64 total), coming off in some sub-packages. Initially, the Patriots had Malcolm Butler on the outside guarding Mike Wallace. However, he struggled and saw the majority of his playing time on the first two drives and the first half (22 snaps). Kyle Arrington then came on as the third cornerback - but went down with an injury and finished with only 11 snaps played. Eventually, Logan Ryan came on as the third corner, and appeared to hold up well. He finished with 31 snaps played, and was relied on heavily in the second half. Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson continued to mix in at safety as well. Harmon came on in some sub-packages and passing downs (31 snaps) while Wilson got into action in dime packages (18 snaps). One of the most notable plays of the day was Harmon intercepting a Tannehill throw, with Tavon Wilson blocking down the field on the return.
Note: Snap counts tracked by NFL, provided via official gamebook.