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Week 15 Patriots vs Broncos snap count: Shea McClellin snapped Joe Thuney’s ironman streak

The Patriots threw some curveballs at the Broncos.

Here are the Patriots snap counts from week 15’s 16-3 victory over the Broncos.

Joe Thuney has no longer played every offensive snap this year

LT Nate Solder, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon, and QB Tom Brady played all 75 snaps on Sunday. LG Joe Thuney, who had previously played every single offensive snap in 2016, played 74 snaps (99%). What happened?

The Patriots brought out the 2014 AFC Divisional Round Ravens play with LB Shea McClellin to waste Von Miller in coverage. This was McClellin’s only offensive snap on the day.

OT Cameron Fleming played 11 snaps (15%) as an extra blocker. WR Matthew Slater played 1 snap in the kneeldown formation.

TE Martellus Bennett might be finally healthy

While Bennett wasn’t a part of the Patriots quick passing attack against the Broncos, he played 67 snaps (89%), which tied WR Malcolm Mitchell for the most snaps by a Patriots offensive skill player. Since Bennett sprained his ankle in week 4 against the Browns, he’s exceeded 80% of the snaps just once: week 10 vs the 49ers, one week before he reinjured his ankle against the Jets. He might be healthy again.

WR Chris Hogan (52, 69%) and WR Julian Edelman (44, 59%) played reduced roles in the Patriots rushing offense, with FB James Develin (43, 57%) setting a career high in snaps (previous high was 37) and playing more than half of the snaps for the first time in his career. TE Matt Lengel chipped in 15 snaps (20%).

RB Dion Lewis was the hot hand

Lewis (28, 37%) outsnapped RB James White (24, 32%) and RB LeGarrette Blount (23, 31%). It’s clear the Patriots wanted to use their shiftier backs against the Broncos defensive front.

The Patriots secondary played a healthy game

FS Devin McCourty, SS Patrick Chung, CB Malcolm Butler, and CB Logan Ryan played all 62 defensive snaps. CB Eric Rowe (48, 77%) was the nickel option against the Broncos three-receiver sets. S Duron Harmon (22, 35%) and CB Jonathan Jones (11, 18%) played a limited role.

McCourty, Chung, and Harmon pair with Butler, Ryan, and Rowe to create a pretty strong three-deep that can counter three-receiver and two-tight end sets.

DT Malcom Brown battled a stomach issue

Brown (27, 44%) had to go to the locker room to receive an IV due to a stomach issue, so rookie DT Vincent Valentine (25, 40%) really stepped up. DT Alan Branch (36, 58%) was the leader of the rotation and made several huge stops.

ED Trey Flowers (41, 66%) was the leading edge rusher and served as the interior pass rusher, with ED Rob Ninkovich (35, 56%), ED Chris Long (33, 53%), and ED Jabaal Sheard (31, 50%) all splitting time fairly evenly based upon the drive. ED Geneo Grissom played 1 snap.

LB Kyle Van Noy is the starter next to LB Dont’a Hightower

In fact, Van Noy (51, 82%) actually led the linebackers in snaps, with Hightower playing 42 snaps (68%) due to his knee issue. LB Shea McClellin (20, 32%) was the third linebacker, and Elandon Roberts (11, 18%) played a little bit, too.

The following played 15+ snaps on special teams:

Shea McClellin (22), Geneo Grissom (22), Nate Ebner (21), Brandon Bolden (20), Barkevious Mingo (20), Brandon King (20), Matthew Slater (20), Jonathan Jones (20)