Offensive snaps: Where's Welker?

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
4:30
AM ET
NASHVILLE -- Looking at the snaps played by offensive skill-position players in the Patriots' 34-13 season-opening win over the Titans and analyzing what they might mean (as charted by ESPNBoston.com):

[+] EnlargeWes Welker
AP Photo/Wade PayneAfter being on the field for nearly 90 percent of the Patriots' offensive snaps last season, Wes Welker played just 64 percent of his team's snaps Sunday.
QB Tom Brady -- 67 of 67
TE Rob Gronkowski -- 67 of 67
TE Aaron Hernandez -- 67 of 67
WR Brandon Lloyd -- 57 of 67
WR Wes Welker -- 43 of 67
RB Stevan Ridley -- 40 of 67
WR Julian Edelman -- 23 of 67
RB Danny Woodhead -- 14 of 67
TE Michael Hoomanawanui -- 10 of 67
RB Brandon Bolden -- 6 of 67
FB Lex Hilliard -- 4 of 67
FB Dan Connolly -- 2 of 67
WR Matthew Slater -- 2 of 67
WR Greg Salas -- 0 of 67

(Penalties included, kneel-down not included.)

ANALYSIS: Receiver Wes Welker's reduced workload stood out. After playing in 89.2 percent of the team's total offensive snaps in 2011, he split time with Julian Edelman. Welker had a quiet game (3 catches for 14 yards) and this type of plan -- and his playing time -- makes one wonder if it's the potential beginning of a less Welker-centric attack. ... Meanwhile, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez never left the field. They led the team with six receptions apiece as they were a focal point of the offense. ... Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui played in a specific package as the third tight end. ... At running back, Stevan Ridley's 40 snaps are a career high in the NFL and there was a wide gap between him and the next back, Danny Woodhead (14). Last year, lead back BenJarvus Green-Ellis only had one game with 40-plus snaps. ... Five of rookie RB Brandon Bolden's six snaps came on the final drive when the Patriots were running out the clock. ... Not directly related to snaps, but coordinator Josh McDaniels called a nice game and achieved the desired balance between the run and pass.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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