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Thursday, November 4, 2010
Defensive snapshot: Brace is back

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team's 28-18 win over the Vikings, while highlighting possible trends (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

ILB Jerod Mayo -- 73 of 73
S Brandon Meriweather -- 73 of 73
S James Sanders -- 73 of 73
CB Devin McCourty
-- 72 of 73
CB Kyle Arrington
-- 70 of 73
DL Vince Wilfork
-- 52 of 73
OLB/DE Jermaine Cunningham -- 49 of 73
ILB Brandon Spikes -- 46 of 73
DL Mike Wright -- 41 of 73
OLB Rob Ninkovich -- 38 of 73
OLB/DE Tully Banta-Cain -- 36 of 73
DL Brandon Deaderick -- 34 of 73
DL Ron Brace -- 31 of 73
DL Myron Pryor -- 24 of 73
CB Jonathan Wilhite -- 20 of 73
DL Gerard Warren -- 17 of 73
DE Shawn Crable -- 14 of 73
LB Gary Guyton -- 14 of 73
S Sergio Brown -- 12 of 73
CB Darius Butler -- 9 of 73
LB Dane Fletcher -- 4 of 73
S Aaron Hernandez -- 1 of 73

(Includes two-point conversion, roughing-the-passer penalty and illegal formation penalty, but not a false start penalty.)

ANALYSIS: After he was a healthy scratch last week, second-year defensive lineman Ron Brace re-emerged. His fourth-and-1 penetration that helped stop RB Adrian Peterson at the end of the second quarter seemed to earn him extended playing time in the second half, or perhaps it was a coincidence. ... With safeties Patrick Chung and Jarrad Page injured, it called on Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders to go wire to wire as part of every package. ... Rookie DE Brandon Deaderick, who started for the third week in a row, played 29 first-half snaps and just 5 in the second half. ... Veteran DE Gerard Warren, who played nose tackle two weeks ago in San Diego, was used sparingly in this game. ... With the Patriots previously calling on Randy Moss in Hail Mary situations, that role went to Aaron Hernandez at the end of the game. ... Rookie CB Devin McCourty had his streak of playing every snap broken when he came off for one play in the third quarter, as he was shaken up while successfully defending a deep pass. ... When McCourty left the game, second-year man Darius Butler took his place, a sign that he is the top backup at left cornerback. ... OLB Tully Banta-Cain showed up more in the second half, and had a solid series at the start of the third quarter while playing more in the base 3-4 alignment. Banta-Cain had been limited to a sub-rusher role in recent weeks, but he replaced Rob Ninkovich for stretches of the second half.