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Monday, December 2, 2013
Snaps: Vereen as lead running back

By Mike Reiss

HOUSTON -- A look at snaps played by Patriots offensive skill-position players in Sunday's 34-31 win over the Texans, while analyzing what it means (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

QB Tom Brady --  70 of 70
TE Rob Gronkowski -- 63 of 70
WR Julian Edelman -- 62 of 70
WR Danny Amendola -- 48 of 70
RB Shane Vereen -- 41 of 70
TE Matthew Mulligan -- 36 of 70
FB James Develin -- 29 of 70
RB LeGarrette Blount -- 20 of 70
WR Josh Boyce -- 16 of 70
WR Kenbrell Thompkins -- 15 of 70
RB Brandon Bolden -- 9 of 70
WR Matthew Slater -- 8 of 70
TE D.J. Williams -- 3 of 70

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: The snapshot at running back provides a clear picture of how the Patriots approached things with Stevan Ridley a healthy scratch, as Shane Vereen was the lead option (41 snaps). What stood out about Vereen's total was that he was part of more traditional sets, not just the three-receiver package in which he would be considered the "passing back." LeGarrette Blount was the No. 2 option, followed by Brandon Bolden. ... Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins started and injured his hip on the third series. He attempted to come back and played three snaps before shutting it down for the day. That created a new combination in the two-receiver set, with Julian Edelman joined by slot man Danny Amendola.  Edelman, who played big, has earned the nickname "Minitron" from quarterback Tom Brady, according to Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet. ...  Special teams captain Matthew Slater's eight snaps were easily a season-high as depth was tapped after Thompkins' injury. ... It was also a season-high for tight end Matthew Mulligan (36 snaps), as the Patriots leaned heavy on the 2-tight end package. Mulligan's previous high was 24 snaps, against the Broncos on Nov. 24, as he been on the field more in recent weeks with Michael Hoomanawanui sidelined with a knee injury.  ... Likewise, fullback James Develin's 29 snaps were a season-high (previous high was 28, vs. the Jets on Sept. 12). ... Tight end D.J. Williams, who was  signed to a free-agent contract on Wednesday, was part of the 3-tight end package at the goal-line (James Develin TD) and was sprinkled in twice in the two-tight end package when Rob Gronkowski was given a short breather.  At one point, he lined up in the offensive backfield initially.