After missing the season opener against Philadelphia because of a knee injury, DeVante Parker returned to the New England Patriots’ lineup in Week 2. The veteran took on a prominent role right away: he served as a de facto No. 1 wide receiver.
One of six players to take the field for all 74 offensive snaps against the Miami Dolphins, Parker played 30 more snaps than the next closest wideout and ended the night as the team leader in both catches (6) and receiving yards (57). While his performance as a whole had its ups and downs — he was the target on a Mac Jones interception — it is clear the Patriots view him as a vital member of their offense.
The other receivers saw rotational action. JuJu Smith-Schuster ranked No. 2 with 44 snaps that he turned into five catches and 28 receiving yards; last week’s most-used wideout, Kendrick Bourne, played 38 snaps while catching four passes for 29 yards; Demario Douglas played six snaps early on and caught a pair of passes for 19 yards, but was benched after a fumble in the late first quarter.
New England will likely continue mixing and matching its wide receiver personnel based on opponent and player availability, but it looks likely that Parker will continue playing a prominent role in all scenarios. He is clearly the team’s top option on the perimeter.
As for the other usage-based takeaways from the Patriots’ 24-17 loss to the Dolphins, here is our weekly snap count report.
Total snaps: 74
QB Mac Jones* (74; 100%), LT Vederian Lowe* (74; 100%), LG Cole Strange* (74; 100%), C David Andrews* (74; 100%), RT Calvin Anderson* (74; 100%), WR DeVante Parker* (74; 100%), TE Hunter Henry* (68; 92%), RB Rhamondre Stevenson* (54; 73%), TE Mike Gesicki* (53, 72%), RG Michael Onwenu* (46; 62%), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (44; 59%), WR Kendrick Bourne (38; 51%), RG Atonio Mafi (28; 38%), RB Ezekiel Elliott (22; 30%), TE Pharaoh Brown* (8; 11%), WR Demario Douglas (6; 8%), RB/WR Ty Montgomery II (3; 4%)
Parker was one of six players to not leave the field on the offensive side of the ball, joining quarterback Mac Jones as well as left tackle Vederian Lowe, who replaced an injured Trent Brown, left guard Cole Strange, center David Andrews, and right tackle Calvin Anderson. The only offensive lineman who did not go wire-to-wire was right guard Michael Onwenu.
Appearing in his first game since offseason ankle injury, the fourth-year lineman started the game and ended up playing 46 snaps. He was, however, replaced by rookie Atonio Mafi in a pre-planned rotation.
Elsewhere on the team, the Patriots used a heavy dose of two-tight end sets. As a consequence, both Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki saw extensive action: they played 68 and 53 snaps, respectively. Third-string tight end Pharaoh Brown chipped in eight snaps.
The running back position, meanwhile, relied mostly on Rhamondre Stevenson; he touched the ball 18 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott and Ty Montgomery played smaller roles.
Total snaps: 63
S Jabrill Peppers* (63; 100%), S Kyle Dugger* (63; 100%), CB Christian Gonzalez* (63; 100%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley* (63; 100%), CB Myles Bryant (53; 84%), ED Matthew Judon (51; 81%), LB Jahlani Tavai* (46; 73%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr.* (43; 68%), DT Davon Godchaux* (36; 57%), LB/S Marte Mapu* (30; 48%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr. (28; 44%), DT Christian Barmore* (28; 44%), DT Christian Ekuale (24; 38%), LB Josh Uche* (23; 37%), CB Marcus Jones* (20; 32%), DE Keion White (19; 30%), CB Shaun Wade (14; 22%), S Adrian Phillips (13; 21%), S Jalen Mills (13; 21%)
Two weeks into the season it is clear that the Patriots are trusting Christian Gonzalez not just to play a high number of snaps — he played 100 percent for a second straight week — but also to carry out tough assignments. Against the Dolphins, he saw regular action covering Tyreek Hill and even notched his first career interception on a pass intended for the All-Pro wideout.
Gonzalez offers some much-needed stability at cornerback. The Patriots, after all, entered the game down two starter-level corners (Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones) and lost Marcus Jones in the first half with a shoulder injury. As a result, Shaun Wade played 14 snaps — the highest total of his three-year career.
With its cornerback depth depleted against one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, the Patriots turned to its safety personnel. Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers led a group that also saw contributions from rookie linebacker/safety hybrid Marte Mapu. Whereas the youngster played 30 snaps, veterans Adrian Phillips and Jalen Mills played only 13 each.
Up front, the Patriots used a rotational approach at all spots. And while Matthew Judon led the group with 51 snaps, he did not get the start for only the fourth time in his Patriots career. That honor went to Josh Uche, who ended the game with 23 snaps.
The off-ball linebackers, meanwhile, were once again headed by Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai. Interestingly enough, the athletic Mack Wilson was not given any defensive snaps against the Dolphins and used exclusively on special teams.
Total snaps: 25
S Adrian Phillips (22; 88%), LB Chris Board (22; 88%), S Brenden Schooler (22; 88%), WR Matthew Slater (22; 88%), LB Jahlani Tavai (19; 76%), LB Mack Wilson Sr. (16; 64%), RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery II (13; 52%), S Jabrill Peppers (10; 40%), S Kyle Dugger (10; 40%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (9; 36%), LB/S Marte Mapu (9; 36%), DT Lawrence Guy Sr. (9; 36%), DE Keion White (9; 36%), TE Pharaoh Brown (7; 28%), LS Joe Cardona (7; 28%), P/H Bryce Baringer (7; 28%), K Chad Ryland (7; 28%), CB Christian Gonzalez (6; 24%), CB Myles Bryant (6; 24%), DT Daniel Ekuale (6; 24%), TE Hunter Henry (5; 20%), ED Josh Uche (5; 20%), LB Calvin Munson (5; 20%), OT Calvin Anderson (3; 12%), G Cole Strange (3; 12%), G Michael Onwenu (3; 12%), WR/PR Demario Douglas (3; 12%), OL Jake Andrews (3; 12%), OT Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (3; 12%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (1; 4%)
Besides Mack Wilson, nine others played only in the kicking game. Obviously, specialists Chad Ryland, Bryce Baringer and Joe Cardona took the field exclusively on kicking downs; they were joined by Chris Board, Brenden Schooler, Matthew Slater, Calvin Munson, Jake Andrews and Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
Board, Schooler and Slater played their usual high number of snaps and were on the field for all but three of 25 possible snaps. Also playing 22 snaps was Adrian Phillips, who continues to serve as a core special teamer whose roles, among others, include serving as Baringer’s personal protector on the punt squad.
Return duties were handled by Ty Montgomery — who saw all five of Miami’s kickoffs sail for touchbacks — as well as Marcus Jones and Demario Douglas: Jones started the game as the punt returner of choice, with Douglas entering the game after the All-Pro had to leave with a shoulder injury.
Did not play
QB Bailey Zappe, WR Jalen Reagor
No surprises on the list of DNPs, with Bailey Zappe riding the bench as Mac Jones’ lone backup. Jalen Reagor appeared to be a candidate to see some action, especially after Demario Douglas was benched, but that never happened.
CB Ameer Speed, CB Jonathan Jones, ED Anfernee Jennings, OL Sidy Sow, OT Trent Brown, WR Kayshon Boutte, DT Sam Roberts
The Patriots went up against Miami without two of their most important players. Starting left tackle Trent Brown was out with a concussion, while cornerback Jonathan Jones suffered an ankle injury during the week that forced him to sit out the contest as well.
In addition to those two, the Patriots deactivated three members of its rookie class — Ameer Speed, Kayshon Boutte and Sidy Sow — as well as front seven defenders Anfernee Jennings and Sam Roberts. All but Sow, who is dealing with a concussion himself, were healthy scratches for the game.