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Defensive snaps: Wilfork comes up big

11/24/2010

A look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday’s 31-28 win over the Colts, while focusing on trends that could be a factor in this week’s matchup against the Lions (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

ILB Jerod Mayo – 72 of 72

CB Devin McCourty – 72 of 72

S James Sanders – 71 of 72

S Brandon Meriweather – 70 of 72

OLB/DE Tully Banta-Cain – 69 of 72

DL Vince Wilfork -- 64 of 72

LB Gary Guyton – 63 of 72

S Patrick Chung – 56 of 72

CB Kyle Arrington – 45 of 72

OLB/DE Jermaine Cunningham – 44 of 72

DL Mike Wright – 40 of 72

CB Darius Butler – 36 of 72

DL Gerard Warren – 22 of 72

OLB/DE Rob Ninkovich – 20 of 72

DL Ron Brace – 18 of 72

DL Brandon Deaderick – 17 of 72

ILB Brandon Spikes – 9 of 72

DL Kyle Love – 3 of 72

S Sergio Brown – 1 of 72

ANALYSIS: The snap counts highlight DL Vince Wilfork’s value to the defense. Some might view him as a two-down run-stopper, but this game was an example of how Wilfork is effective on first, second and third down when utilized that way. He was a big part of the reason the Patriots could stop the run with six defenders in the box. To play 64 snaps is a lot for a player of Wilfork’s physical makeup and speaks to his athleticism and endurance. His performance earned a game ball. … DL Mike Wright is the team’s top interior sub rusher, and with him likely to miss Thursday’s game with a concussion – and DL Myron Pryor (back) also potentially out – the Patriots are likely to use a rotation in that role this week. … With the Patriots in their sub defense the majority of the time, rookie ILB Brandon Spikes had a low playing time total. There were times when the Patriots still kept Spikes on the sidelines in the base 3-4 alignment, going with ILB Gary Guyton instead. Peyton Manning is one of the NFL’s best at play-action and that’s an area where Spikes has been victimized at times. … In releasing Shawn Crable last week, it opened an opportunity for rookie OLB/DE Jermaine Cunningham to rush more in the four-man line in sub packages. Cunningham delivered the big rush on Peyton Manning’s final interception. … The Patriots had Tully Banta-Cain and Jermaine Cunningham as their top outside linebackers in the 3-4 alignment, with both players staying on to rush as defensive ends in the four-man line in sub packages. ... All of CB Darius Butler’s snaps came in the second half. … The Patriots utilized Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders as their top safeties, with Patrick Chung as the top reserve. This could be tied to Chung still working his way back after missing two games with a knee injury.