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Week 5 Patriots vs Cowboys: Snap Counts and Key Observations

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The Patriots won another game in major fashion, but did it affect which players took the field?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

David Andrews is the Iron Man

The Patriots rookie center took every single snap and continues to have 100% attendance this season. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer played 95% of the snaps, but that was higher than expected due to the injury to left tackle Nate Solder (42%). Solder's injury meant that Marcus Cannon (68%) wouldn't be available to substitute Vollmer on a couple drives.

Solder's injury is worth monitoring because the Patriots could have to promote Cameron Fleming from the practice squad if the Patriots left tackle in unable to play against the Colts.

Josh Kline and Shaq Mason are the starting guards

Kline (81%) and Mason (71%) are as much the starters as Solder and Vollmer, with rookie Tre Jackson seeing 54% of the snaps. Jackson is more of a liability in the run game than Mason is in the passing game, so the Kline/Mason pairing allows for a better level of run/pass flexibility.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski played almost every snap

Brady and Gronk were available for 97% of the plays, with Jimmy Garoppolo taking Brady's place in the kneel downs.

Keshawn Martin joins Julian Edelman as the starting wide receivers

In a surprise move, Martin (85%) played just one fewer snaps than Edelman (86%). Danny Amendola only posted 61%, which is still not a bad day, but it seems the coaching staff believes that Martin offers more value on than outside. Tight end Scott Chandler played a measly 10 snaps (17%).

Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler, and Jamie Collins went wire-to-wire

These are the three cornerstones of the defensive back seven and they didn't disappoint. All three made key plays throughout the day. Patrick Chung (89%) posted the next highest snap count on the day as he helped to take down Jason Witten.

The Patriots continue their strong edge defender rotation

Chandler Jones (79%), Rob Ninkovich (75%), and Jabaal Sheard (64%) all saw considerable time on the field. Geneo Grissom (9%) was the next man up. Sheard continues to be dominant, while both Jones and Ninkovich have been fairly quiet. Still, with how the rotation works, it doesn't really mean too much to consider just two of these players as starters.

The defensive tackle position rotated nearly every drive

With the Patriots focus on stopping the run, the coaching staff made sure that their defensive tackles never wore down. Rookie Malcom Brown tied veteran Alan Branch for the lead with 32% of snaps, while Dominique Easley (26%), Sealver Siliga (25%), and Akiem Hicks (25%) weren't too far behind. Look for the Patriots to continue this rotation as they face off against some teams reliant on their rushing attack.

Jerod Mayo and Jonathan Freeny split time

While Mayo received the start, Freeny saw plenty of time after Dont'a Hightower left with an early injury. Mayo (40%) barely edged out Freeny (35%) for time on the day. It seems the coaching staff feels Mayo is a role player at this point in time.

Logan Ryan and Tarell Brown duke it out for the #2 spot

While Butler is the clear #1 player, locking down Terrance Williams, Ryan (65%) and Brown (62%) rotated their match-ups, with both players seeing time against Cole Beasley. Justin Coleman (36%) saw time, too, as the Patriots continue to bring him up to speed. Neither Ryan, nor Brown distanced themselves from one another against the Cowboys, but there will be plenty of time to star against the Colts passing weapons.

The Patriots continue to use three safeties

With McCourty (100%) and Chung (89%) always on the field, the Patriots usage of Duron Harmon (57%) and Jordan Richards (31%) shows how valuable these depth defensive backs can be in the New England game plan.

These players saw 15+ special teams snaps

Jonathan Freeny (22), Nate Ebner (22), Jordan Richards (20), Brandon Bolden (20), Brandon King (20), Matthew Slater (20), Patrick Chung (16), Duron Harmon (15), Devin McCourty (15)