Snaps: Branch puts in full night's work

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
9:35
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at the snaps played by offensive skill-position players in the Patriots’ 27-17 preseason loss to the Eagles on Monday, and analyzing what it might mean:

WR Deion Branch – 73 of 74
WR Donte’ Stallworth – 57 of 74
WR Jeremy Ebert – 49 of 74
QB Ryan Mallett – 38 of 74
QB Brian Hoyer – 36 of 74
TE Alex Silvestro – 34 of 74
RB Shane Vereen – 33 of 74
RB Danny Woodhead – 23 of 74
RB Brandon Bolden – 20 of 74
RB Stevan Ridley – 20 of 74
TE Tyler Urban – 19 of 74
FB Eric Kettani – 17 of 74
WR Julian Edelman – 14 of 74
WR Jesse Holley – 10 of 74
TE Jake Bequette – 1 of 74

(Includes penalties and two-point conversion. No kneel-down.)

ANALYSIS: Bill Belichick said this was a game to evaluate the roster and the playing time numbers highlight which players the coaching staff dedicated its primary focus. Sure looks like they wanted to see how Deion Branch held up, and it seemed to be pretty good for the 11-year veteran with 3 catches for 51 yards. The only play he wasn’t on the field was the two-point conversion in the second quarter. From this view, a performance like that would seem to solidify his standing in the No. 3 receiver spot behind Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. … The other part of it was probably giving quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer some veterans to work with to better evaluate them under center. … In the slot, Julian Edelman played the first two series and that was it, which gave the staff an extended look at rookie Jeremy Ebert (3 catches, 18 yards, 1 dropped pass) the rest of the way. ...Defensive end Jake Bequette’s one snap came on the two-point conversion as a third tight end -- the old Mike Vrabel role. … It was a flip-flop on the running backs – after Stevan Ridley started the preseason opener, he was used exclusively in the second half. Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden split tme in the first half (Vereen the first 3 series, Bolden the last 3 series of the half) … The Patriots had two pure running backs on the field for 22 snaps, which was likely a result of a tight-end shortage and/or a chance to evaluate them as pass catchers. ... 53 snaps in the first half and 21 in the second, which added to the evaluation as the Eagles played their top unit through the first half.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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