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Monday, October 31, 2011
Offensive snaps: Faulk takes over

By Mike Reiss

PITTSBURGH – Snaps played by offensive skill-position players in the Patriots’ 25-17 loss to the Steelers (as charted in press box, small margin for error):

TE Rob Gronkowski – 58 of 58
TE Aaron Hernandez – 50 of 58
WR Wes Welker – 50 of 58
WR Deion Branch – 48 of 58
RB Kevin Faulk – 39 of 58
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 13 of 58
WR Chad Ochocinco – 11 of 58
TE Dan Gronkowski – 6 of 58
WR Taylor Price – 6 of 58
RB Danny Woodhead – 4 of 58
TE Nate Solder—2 of 58
TE Sebastian Vollmer – 2 of 58
FB Ryan Wendell – 1 of 58

(Defensive holding, defensive pass interference, false start, false start and false start penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: Kevin Faulk’s playing time stands out most, both in terms of volume and how it had a trickle-down effect on the other backs, particularly Danny Woodhead and rookies Stevan Ridley (dressed but did not play) and Shane Vereen (inactive). The Patriots were in passing mode early, which contributed to the high total for Faulk, who is considered the team’s top “passing” back. … For those wondering if Rob Gronkowski might be subject to Wes Welker 2010-playoff-type discipline, not only didn’t it happen, but Gronkowski was the lone player to go wire to wire. … The Nate Solder/Sebastian Vollmer snaps as a third tight end were counted based on which player came on to the field, not which one was an eligible receiver. ... It’s still the Wes Welker/Deion Branch show at receiver, with the Patriots running mostly two-receiver sets. That left limited opportunities for Chad Ochocinco and Taylor Price.