Snaps: Final look at '12 on offense

January, 4, 2013
1/04/13
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When assessing a player’s value, teams can sometimes turn to playing-time statistics. The more valuable the player, the more he plays.

With this in mind, the following is a breakdown of playing time for Patriots offensive skill-position players in 2012 (penalties included, no kneel-downs, small margin for error, charted by ESPNBoston.com):

Quarterback
Tom Brady – 1,224 of 1,240 – 98.7 percent
Ryan Mallett – 16 of 1,240 – 1.3 percent

Quick hit: Brady doesn’t like to come out of the game. A strong 2013 preseason could increase Mallett’s value.

Running back/fullback
Stevan Ridley – 555 of 1,240 – 44.8 percent
Danny Woodhead – 423 of 1,240 – 34.1 percent
Shane Vereen – 158 of 1,240 – 12.7 percent
Brandon Bolden – 93 of 1,240 – 7.5 percent
Dan Connolly – 9 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent
Lex Hilliard – 8 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent
Donald Thomas – 2 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent

Quick hits: Ridley was the clear-cut No. 1 when compared to last year as BenJarvus Green-Ellis played 34 percent of the snaps and Woodhead played 33 percent. The Patriots are positioned well here for the future, as Jeff Demps is a candidate to join the mix in 2013. Woodhead, who has seamlessly slid into the old Kevin Faulk role, is a free agent who has increased his value with a strong campaign.

Wide receiver
Wes Welker – 1,085 of 1,240 – 87.5 percent
Brandon Lloyd – 1,051 of 1,240 – 84.8 percent
Deion Branch – 482 of 1,240 – 38.9 percent
Julian Edelman – 299 of 1,240 – 24.1 percent
Matthew Slater – 37 of 1,240 – 3.0 percent
Donte’ Stallworth – 20 of 1,240 – 1.6 percent
Greg Salas – 6 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent
Kamar Aiken – 3 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent

Quick hits: Welker was at 89.2 percent last season, the high mark among receivers, and he leads the way again in 2012. He might not be a prototype No. 1 receiver, but the Patriots use him like one. It hasn’t always been smooth, but credit Lloyd for being available and playing a lot of snaps. His presence helped balance things out and provide more of an outside threat. This looks like a position that will require some offseason attention.

Tight end
Rob Gronkowski – 743 of 1,240 – 59.9 percent
Aaron Hernandez – 575 of 1,240 – 46.4 percent
Daniel Fells – 293 of 1,240 – 23.6 percent
Michael Hoomanawanui – 283 of 1,240 – 22.8 percent
Visanthe Shiancoe – 51 of 1,240 – 4.1 percent
Marcus Cannon – 15 of 1,240 – 1.2 percent
Nick McDonald – 9 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent
Kellen Winslow – 4 of 1,240 – less than 1 percent

Quick hits: The idea was to build the offense around young tight ends Gronkowski and Hernandez, but they were only on the field together for four of the 16 regular-season games because of injuries. The Patriots stocked up with depth, but the attack naturally slips a bit without Gronkowski and/or Hernandez. Their ability to play a full 16-game season will be a storyline to monitor in 2013.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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