Defensive snaps: Ellis back in mix

December, 25, 2011
12/25/11
4:40
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Snaps played by Patriots defenders in Saturday’s 27-24 win over the Dolphins, while analyzing what it might mean (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

CB Kyle Arrington – 68 of 68
LB Dane Fletcher – 68 of 68
LB Jerod Mayo – 68 of 68
CB Devin McCourty – 68 of 68
S James Ihedigbo – 67 of 68
DL Vince Wilfork – 62 of 68
LB/DE Rob Ninkovich – 56 of 68
S Sergio Brown – 54 of 68
DE Shaun Ellis – 44 of 68
DL Kyle Love – 44 of 68
DL Brandon Deaderick – 42 of 68
CB/S Nate Jones – 41 of 68
DE Mark Anderson – 24 of 68
DL Gerard Warren – 21 of 68
DL Alex Silvestro – 11 of 68
S Ross Ventrone – 9 of 68
S Matthew Slater – 1 of 68

ANALYSIS: In a bit of a surprise, the Patriots replaced the injured Andre Carter at right defensive end in the base 4-3 with Brandon Deaderick, and then had Shaun Ellis filling Deaderick’s left end spot. This gave the team a heavier look at end. In Denver the week before, the Patriots had Mark Anderson replace Carter, but Anderson was solely used as a sub rusher against the Dolphins. … The 44 snaps were the most for Ellis, who had been used sparingly in recent weeks, since playing 40 against the Cowboys on Oct. 16. He made an early impact with a sack on the opening drive. … The Patriots used just three pure linebackers in the game – Jerod Mayo, Dane Fletcher and Rob Ninkovich – with Ninkovich dropping to end as an edge rusher in sub packages. That represents a big step in Fletcher’s career progression, as it’s easy to forget he was a college defensive end who has made the Tedy Bruschi-type transition to linebacker. When Brandon Spikes returns to health, does he get his job back? At this point, Fletcher might make it tough for that to happen. … The Patriots had two different combinations in the secondary in the base defense, depending on the Dolphins’ personnel. They subbed Nate Jones for Sergio Brown when the Dolphins had H-back Charles Clay in the game. ... The Patriots didn't hesitate to use defensive end Alex Silvestro in both the base defense and sub defense after promoting him from the practice squad Saturday. Silvestro played six first-half snaps and five second-half snaps. He also played on the punt return unit, filling Jermaine Cunningham's old role.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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