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Sunday, August 28, 2011
Highlighting 1st-unit offensive snaps

By Mike Reiss

DETROIT -- The Patriots kept quarterback Tom Brady in the game through the first series of the third quarter. Top players at other positions played one more series in the third quarter before the backups came on.

With this in mind, here are the snaps for offensive skill-position players through the second drive of the third quarter, while looking deeper at what they might mean (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

QB Tom Brady -- 39 of 42
WR Deion Branch -- 34 of 42
TE Rob Gronkowski -- 32 of 42
RB Danny Woodhead -- 28 of 42
TE Aaron Hernandez -- 25 of 42
WR Wes Welker -- 25 of 42
WR Chad Ochocinco -- 23 of 42
WR Taylor Price -- 17 of 42
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- 14 of 42
TE Will Yeatman -- 10 of 42
QB Brian Hoyer -- 3 of 42
WR Julian Edelman -- 1 of 42
FB Sammy Morris -- 1 of 42

ANALYSIS: The three-receiver package featured Ochocinco/Welker/Branch. Price was given his chance to show he could be a top backup as a fourth option, working in both one- and two-receiver packages. Price was targeted once and couldn't come up with a back-shoulder throw. ... Branch was on the field more than any receiver, yet he wasn't targeted with a throw. ... Yeatman, the rookie free agent from Maryland, continued to get repetitions ahead of fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith, which casts a question mark on Smith's roster status. The Patriots don't cut fifth-round draft choices without a little more time passing, but keeping four tight ends might be excessive. ... Down to just two running backs because rookies Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen weren't ready, the short-handed approach looked similar to last year. Ridley and Vereen should help.