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Monday, December 28, 2009
It takes three players to fill Wilfork's void

By Mike Reiss

A look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team’s 35-7 win over the Jaguars, while tracking trends (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

OLB/DE Tully Banta-Cain –- 52 of 52
CB Leigh Bodden -– 52 of 52
LB Jerod Mayo –- 52 of 52
S Brandon Meriweather -– 52 of 52
CB Shawn Springs –- 50 of 52
S James Sanders -– 43 of 52
ILB Gary Guyton –- 39 of 52
DL Jarvis Green –- 35 of 52
DL Mike Wright -- 32 of 52
CB Jonathan Wilhite -– 28 of 52
DE Derrick Burgess -– 27 of 52
OLB Adalius Thomas -– 26 of 52
S Brandon McGowan -– 25 of 52
NT Myron Pryor -– 19 of 52
DE Rob Ninkovich -– 17 of 52
ILB Junior Seau – 13 of 52
NT Ron Brace –- 5 of 52
DL Ty Warren –- 5 of 52

ANALYSIS: The Patriots utilized three options at the nose tackle spot without Vince Wilfork. They were in the base 3-4 alignment on 25 of the 52 snaps –- Pryor was the nose on 17 of them, Brace for four, and Wright for four ... Brace did not play after the first series … Warren, playing through an ankle injury and dressed as an emergency option, played four snaps on the first series, one on the second series, and then wasn’t called on again in part because the Patriots used more sub defenses as the game went on. Warren was on the field on the key fourth-and-1 stop, getting penetration on the left side with Thomas … This is the second week in a row that Bodden, Mayo and Meriweather played every snap … Banta-Cain continues to be one of the surprise performers of the year, playing both in the base 3-4 alignment and staying on the field as the team’s best pass rusher … After struggling on third down against the Dolphins on Dec. 6 –- which led to New England's defense being on the field for 81 snaps (including penalties) –- the Patriots continued their U-turn of success in terms of getting off the field. Because of that, and the offense’s ability to control the ball, the defense only faced 52 plays. The average per game this season is just more than 60 … The sub defense with no linemen, five linebackers and six defensive backs was used 17 times and once again contributed to the team's success … The Patriots also used a nickel package (five defensive backs) with two linemen, two ends and two linebackers up front.