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Patriots vs Cardinals snap counts: Martellus Bennett was a work-unicorn on offense

The Patriots asked a lot of Bennett in his first game.

Here is the snap breakdown for the New England Patriots 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals:

LeGarrette Blount (42 snaps, 59%) and James White (26, 37%) are the starting tandem backs

Brandon Bolden played just 3 of a possible 71 snaps and fumbled the handoff- a bad sign for a player with a red zone fumble in the preseason. It’s extremely obvious that Blount and White are the best two backs and that any snaps taken away from them should be considered a detriment. The Patriots continue to always have a running back on the field.

TE Martellus Bennett (69, 97%) leads skill players on offense

Bennett, also known as the Black Unicorn, didn’t show up much in the stat sheet, but he had a great impact as a blocker. He helped spring some of the team’s better running plays and supported the tackles. WR Julian Edelman (61, 86%), WR Chris Hogan (55, 77%), and WR Malcolm Mitchell (39, 55%) were the other skill leaders.

TE AJ Derby (20, 28%) was rarely utilized, while WR Danny Amendola (19, 27%) showed that he deserves to be on the field more often. FB James Develin (17, 24%) continued in a situational role.

Ted Karras (57, 80%) was the starting right guard...for now

Karras out-snapped Shaq Mason (14, 20%), but Mason was better in his limited time. Hopefully Mason’s hand will heal shortly. LT Cameron Fleming (71, 100%), LG Joe Thuney (71, 100%), and C David Andrews (71, 100%) formed a formidable side of the line, while RT Marcus Cannon (71, 100%) struggled after appearing to suffer an injury to his lower leg/foot.

The Patriots have six full-time defenders and averaged 5.2 defensive backs on the field

DBs Devin McCourty (61, 100%), Logan Ryan (61, 100%), Malcolm Butler (61, 100%), and Patrick Chung (60, 98%), and linebackers Jamie Collins (61, 100%) and Dont’a Hightower (58, 95%) are the only full time players on defense. The other five players rotated.

The Patriots averaged 2.73 cornerbacks, 2.47 safeties, 2.44 linebackers, 1.70 edge defenders, and 1.65 defensive tackles on the field at any given time.

Alan Branch (31, 51%) and Malcom Brown (30, 49%) are the starting defensive tackles

Branch and Brown were great up the middle, while Vincent Valentine (20, 33%) and Anthony Johnson (20, 33%) were called upon in situational capacities. Valentine looks to have a bright future in the heart of the Patriots defense.

Shea McClellin (24, 39%) helped keep the balance in the defensive front 7

Jabaal Sheard (44, 72%) and Chris Long (39, 64%) were heavy in the rotation at edge defender, while Trey Flowers (21, 34%) was less utilized. Jonathan Freeny (6, 10%) hardly played. The key was McClellin because his presence and ability to line up on the edge as a strongside linebacker allowed the Patriots to keep the edge defenders fresh with fewer snaps.

Justin Coleman (40, 66%) is definitely the #5 defensive back

Coleman stepped up in a big way with multiple passes defended and no completions in his direction. Duron Harmon (29, 48%) and Cyrus Jones (5, 8%) were also available, but it was clear that Coleman was the guy against the Cardinals 3-receiver sets.

Special teams players with more than 10 snaps:

Barkevious Mingo (21), Nate Ebner (20), Jonathan Jones (17), Brandon King (16), Matthew Slater (15), Brandon Bolden (15), Devin McCourty (14), Jordan Richards (13), Patrick Chung (11), Alan Branch (11), Duron Harmon (11), Stephen Gostkowski (11)