Defensive snaps: Wilson & Dennard

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
8:30
AM ET
LONDON – A look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team’s 45-7 win over the Rams (small margin for error), while analyzing what they mean:

CB Alfonzo Dennard – 63 of 63
S Tavon Wilson – 63 of 63
LB Jerod Mayo – 60 of 63
CB Sterling Moore – 57 of 63
S Devin McCourty – 56 of 63
LB Brandon Spikes
– 53 of 63
DE Chandler Jones
– 52 of 63
DE Rob Ninkovich – 43 of 63
DE Jermaine Cunningham – 38 of 63
LB Dont’a Hightower – 37 of 63
DT Vince Wilfork – 34 of 63
DT Kyle Love – 27 of 63
CB Marquice Cole – 20 of 63
DL Brandon Deaderick – 19 of 63
DE Justin Francis – 19 of 63
S Nate Ebner – 15 of 63
DE Jake Bequette – 12 of 63
DT Ron Brace – 7 of 63
CB Kyle Arrington – 6 of 63
LB Jeff Tarpinian – 6 of 63
LB Bobby Carpenter – 3 of 63
LB Niko Koutouvides – 3 of 63

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: Two players at opposite ends of the draft-day spectrum found themselves atop the defensive play-time chart. When the Patriots drafted safety Tavon Wilson (Illinois) in the second round, many analysts called it a reach (link here). Bill Belichick and his staff stayed true to their convictions and Wilson is contributing. While Wilson was in coverage on Chris Givens’ 50-yard touchdown bomb in the first quarter -- a play nicely broken down by Field Yates earlier this morning -- he capped off the day with a late-game interception. Meanwhile, many analysts felt the Patriots received great value with CB Alfonzo Dennard in the seventh round. Dennard (Nebraska) had slipped because of an off-field incident but he’s on the rise on the Patriots’ defensive back depth chart. While there have been the typical rookie ups and downs, Dennard has overall done a solid job filling in for Devin McCourty, who has moved to safety the last two games because of injuries to starters Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory. … A scaled-back workload for DT Vince Wilfork, who was battling illness 24 hours before kickoff. … Something to keep on the radar: LB Jerod Mayo and LB Brandon Spikes were examined after the game after they were banged up on the final drive. Mayo still held a news conference. … Other injuries – CB Kyle Arrington (head), slot CB Marquice Cole (hamstring), DT Ron Brace (back). None of those players finished the game. … Brace was fourth on the depth chart, with Brandon Deaderick playing over him in the first half. … Rookie DE Justin Francis is starting to show up more in sub packages, with seven snaps vs. the Jets last week and a season-high 19 vs. the Rams. He was part of an all-DE package with Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham. … All of rookie DE Jake Bequette’s 12 snaps came on the final two drives when the Patriots were pulling starters. … Rookie safety Nate Ebner played 10 of his 15 snaps on the final two drives when the Patriots were pulling starters. He was utilized earlier in the dime, in a linebacker-type role after being bumped up the defensive back depth chart when Kyle Arrington was sidelined with a head injury.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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