The New England Patriots’ second game of the season is in the books, and it was a highly contested affair: resting most of its starters on both sides of the ball, the team feel behind early only to rally back late and come away with a 22-17 victory. Let’s dig a little deeper into the snap count numbers from the game against the Tennessee Titans to get an impression of how the Patriots used those players that actually participated in the contest.
Total snaps: 68
OC James Ferentz (68; 100%), OG Hjalte Froholdt (68; 100%), WR Jakobi Meyers (54; 78%), OT Dan Skipper (52; 76%), QB Jarrett Stidham (46; 68%), WR Gunner Olszewski (45; 66%), OT Cole Croston (34; 50%), RB Damien Harris (34; 50%), OC Ted Karras (26; 38%), FB Jakob Johnson (25; 37%), RB Nick Brossette (25; 37%), WR Dontrelle Inman (25; 37%), TE Lance Kendricks (24; 35%), TE Ryan Izzo (23; 34%), OT Tyree St. Louis (23; 34%), QB Brian Hoyer (22; 32%), OC Tyler Gauthier (20; 29%), OT Cedrick Lang (19; 28%), OT Isaiah Wynn (19; 28%), TE Andrew Beck (18; 26%), TE Benjamin Watson (16; 24%), WR Damoun Patterson (14; 21%), TE Eric Saubert (14; 21%), WR Braxton Berrios (13; 19%), OT Martez Ivey (11; 16%), RB Brandon Bolden (9; 13%), WR Ryan Davis (2; 3%)
For the second straight week, backup offensive linemen James Ferentz and Hjalte Froholdt played every single snap — the only players on the Patriots’ roster to do so. While their performances were somewhat inconsistent, their durability in combination with the team’s willingness to expose them to all kinds of situations will give the coaching staff plenty of tape to evaluate when it comes to roster construction: Froholdt is a essentially a lock given his draft status, Ferentz is fighting for a spot on the team.
Speaking of roster locks, Isaiah Wynn was given a reduced workload in his first game in almost a year. After missing all of 2018 due to a torn Achilles tendon suffered during the preseason, the Patriots’ left tackle saw an increased workload in practice this week before being on the field for nineteen snaps on Saturday. Despite being used on a limited basis, Wynn took another major step forward: he looked comfortable and as advertised, not giving up a single quarterback pressure during his nine pass-blocking snaps. His run-blocking was also good.
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ young wide receivers had another active day — at least somewhat: while Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski played 54 and 45 snaps, respectively, Ryan Davis received only two. Needless to say that the latter does not appear to have the best chances of making the team: if you can’t crack the regular rotation during preseason as an undrafted rookie looking for a spot on the team, your future looks bleak.
Total snaps: 67
DE Trent Harris (58; 87%), DE Chase Winovich (54; 81%), CB Joejuan Williams (54; 81%), LB Calvin Munson (51; 76%), SS Obi Melifonwu (49; 73%), SS Terrence Brooks (42; 63%), LB Christian Sam (42; 63%), CB Duke Dawson Jr. (40; 60%); CB Keion Crossen (38; 57%), DT Byron Cowart (31; 46%), DE Keionta Davis (29; 43%), DT David Parry (25; 37%), CB Ken Webster (24; 36%), DT Mike Pennel (24; 36%), CB J.C. Jackson (18; 27%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (18; 27%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (18; 27%), FS Duron Harmon (18; 27%), DE Shilique Calhoun (15; 22%), DT Danny Shelton (15; 22%), DE Ufomba Kamalu (14; 21%), LB Terez Hall (13; 19%), DE Nick Thurman (13; 19%), DE Derek Rivers (11; 16%), LB Brandon King (10; 15%), FS A.J. Howard (7; 10%), SS Malik Gant (7; 10%)
With Shilique Calhoun and Derek Rivers standing out during training camp, Trent Harris flew under the radar a bit. On Saturday and with both Calhoun and Rivers leaving the game injured, however, he received plenty of opportunities and handled himself well: the 23-year-old, who spent all of 2018 on New England’s practice squad, registered a quarterback hit and also looked solid when it came to setting the edge in the running game.
Harris was not the only player to see increased action because of injuries, as fellow edge defender Chase Winovich also played considerable snaps. One of the game’s most active players, the third-round rookie might see more action with the starting defense moving forward. Regardless of the injury situations surrounding Calhoun and Rivers, the 24-year-old seems to have earned more playing time against starting-level opposition.
What stands out on the list above is the usage of Brandon King, who for the second straight game saw playing time on defense again. The core special teamer, who has yet to play a defensive snap during a regular season or playoff game was on the field for ten more snaps against Tennessee (he played eleven last week). With the 26-year-old a lock to make the roster, giving him more preseason playing time on defense is certainly no bad idea.
Total snaps: 22
CB Keion Crossen (13; 59%), RB Brandon Bolden (12; 55%), LB Brandon King (12; 55%), SS Obi Melifonwu (11; 50%), SS Terrence Brooks (11; 50%), WR Matthew Slater (10; 45%), TE Ryan Izzo (10; 45%), FS A.J. Howard (10; 45%), SS Nate Ebner (10; 45%), LB Calvin Munson (9; 41%), FB Jakob Johnson (8; 36%), LB Christian Sam (8; 36%), CB Duke Dawson Jr. (8; 36%), DE Chase Winovich (7; 32%), SS Malik Gant (7; 32%), K Stephen Gostkowski (7; 32%), TE Andrew Beck (6; 27%), DE John Simon (6; 27%), LS Joe Cardona (6; 27%), WR Gunner Olszewski (5; 23%), CB Joejuan Williams (5; 23%), CB J.C. Jackson (5; 23%), P Jake Bailey (5; 23%), WR Braxton Berrios (4; 18%), DE Trent Harris (4; 18%), CB Ken Webster (4; 18%), OC James Ferentz (3; 14%), OG Hjalte Froholdt (3; 14%), OT Dan Skipper (3; 14%), OT Cole Croston (3; 14%), OC Ted Karras (3; 14%), OT Cedrick Lang (3; 14%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (3; 14%), DE Shilique Calhoun (3; 14%), LB Terez Hall (3; 14%), WR Damoun Patterson (2; 9%), DE Keionta Davis (2; 9%), DE Ufomba Kamalu (2; 9%), P Ryan Allen (2; 9%), TE Eric Saubert (1; 5%)
A large portion of the players listed here will not make the Patriots’ roster because of contributions on offense or defense, but rather due to special teams work. Being able to successfully play in the kicking game is a key for lower-level players and those on the roster bubble. It is therefore no surprise to see the club use forty men in the third phase of the game against the Titans — with no one seeing more action than Keion Crossen.
The second-year man is fighting for a roster spot on a deep cornerback depth chart, but his special teams contributions might be enough to secure his job in New England over fellow defenders Ken Webster and maybe even Duke Dawson. At this point in time and considering his development during his 2018 rookie campaign, envisioning Crossen as a four-unit kicking game player and depth cornerback is not unrealistic.
Of the forty players mentioned above, seven played exclusively on special teams — with two of them fighting for the same single spot: rookie punter Jake Bailey played five snaps compared to Ryan Allen’s two. And while Allen kicked the football twice compared to Bailey’s one punt (he also did have a free kick following a safety, though), the fifth-round draft choice did handle holding duties on three snaps as well.
WR Cameron Meredith, LB Jamie Collins Sr, WR N’Keal Harry, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, WR Phillip Dorsett, SS Patrick Chung, CB Stephon Gilmore, RB Sony Michel, RB James White, CB Jason McCourty, CB Jonathan Jones, FS Devin McCourty, RB Rex Burkhead, FB James Develin, LB Elandon Roberts, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Dont’a Hightower, OC David Andrews, OT Marcus Cannon, OG Joe Thuney, OT Yodny Cajuste, OG Shaq Mason, DT Adam Butler, DE Michael Bennett, TE Stephen Anderson, WR Maurice Harris, TE Matt LaCosse, WR Demaryius Thomas, DE Lawrence Guy
Just like last week, the Patriots’ list of inactive players is a mix of roster locks and players currently nursing injuries. With a short week until the next preseason game — the regular season ‘dress rehearsal’ against the Carolina Panthers will take place on Thursday — resting the starters and key rotational players is certainly a smart decision.