Snaps: Sopoaga chips in with 26

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
7:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Snaps played by New England Patriots defenders in Sunday's 55-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, while analyzing what it means (as charted in press box, small margin for error);

S Devin McCourty -- 75 of 75
CB Kyle Arrington -- 73 of 75
DT Chris Jones -- 72 of 75
CB Alfonzo Dennard -- 71 of 75
DE Chandler Jones -- 66 of 75
LB Dont'a Hightower -- 61 of 75
DT Joe Vellano -- 61 of 75
CB Logan Ryan -- 58 of 75
DE Andre Carter -- 45 of 75
LB Brandon Spikes -- 45 of 75
S Steve Gregory -- 39 of 75
S Duron Harmon -- 38 of 75
DE Rob Ninkovich -- 35 of 75
CB Marquice Cole -- 29 of 75
DT/NT Isaac Sopoaga -- 26 of 75
LB Dane Fletcher -- 16 of 75
DE Michael Buchanan -- 9 of 75
S Tavon Wilson -- 4 of 75
LB Jamie Collins -- 2 of 75

(Penalties included; kneel-down at end of the second quarter not included.)

Analysis: Sopoaga started in his Patriots debut, playing a situational role in the base defense. The reason he started was because the Steelers opened the game with offensive lineman Mike Adams as a sixth blocker, forcing the Patriots' "big" defense on to the field. We'll have to look closer at Sopoaga's play to get a better feel, but two plays caught the eye live -- his ability to help control the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-1 stop and a pass breakup that could have been a pick-six if he caught it. Overall, some good impact from the newcomer in the base and short-yardage packages, it seemed. ... While Sopoaga helped the cause, rookies Jones and Vellano remained the top pairing at defensive tackle. When Sopoaga mostly rotated in, it was for Vellano. ... Carter played 40 of his 45 snaps in the second half as the top replacement for Ninkovich, who left with a foot injury in the third quarter. ... For the second week in a row, Fletcher ran the dime defense as the lone linebacker. ... Collins played two snaps in the short-yardage package. ... Harmon's high stat total is a result of coming on for the injured Gregory in the second half. ... Same for Buchanan and Wilson on the Steelers' final drive.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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