Patriots snap counts: James White’s role and production grow

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Patriots’ personnel packages and snap counts certainly vary from week to week and opponent to opponent. Each week WEEI.com takes a look at New England’s snap counts from that particular game and breaks down not only what they meant in that week’s matchup, but also what trends might be developing with certain players’ playing time.

Here are a few observations and takeaways from the Patriots’ snap count totals in Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Texans in Houston:

--New England played 69 offensive snaps against Houston.
Offensive linemen Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Michael Onwenu and quarterback Cam Newton were the five Patriots to play every offensive snap.

--Isaiah Wynn played 65 snaps (94 percent) before leaving late with a leg injury, replaced by Jermaine Eluemunor to close out the game.

--Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers played (68) all but one offensive snap. The second-year receiver’s production dipped from recent weeks, though, hauling in all three passes thrown his way for 38 yards. It’s the first time that Meyers was targeted fewer than six times since his role in the offense expanded in Week 7 against the 49ers.

--While Meyers’ role shrunk, Damiere Byrd’s expanded. The veteran played 62 snaps (90 percent), topping 90 percent play time once again (seventh time in 10 games) after a dip in playing time to 72 percent of the snaps a week earlier against the Ravens. Byrd responded with a career-high 132 yards, catching six of seven passes thrown his way including a pretty 42-yard over-the-shoulder touchdown.

--N’Keal Harry played 52 snaps (75 snaps) against the Texans, most he’s played since suffering a concussion in Week 7 against the 49ers and missing a pair of games. Harry caught five of the eight passes thrown his way against Houston for 41 yards with an 8.2-yard average. Harry has now averaged less than 10 yards per catch in five of the six games he’s recorded a reception this season and in eight of the 12 games he’s caught a pass in his two-year career. Harry has a stunningly-low 8.8-yard average per catch for his career.

--James White’s role had seemingly shrunk in recent weeks, but the veteran third down back was back in a key spot in Houston. White played 39 snaps (57 percent), an increase that was at least partially related to Rex Burkhead leaving with what looked like a serious knee injury after 12 snaps (17 percent). White’s play time was his most since a season-high 40 snaps in Week 2. White finished with five rushes for 19 yards and six catches for 64 yards. It’s the first time White had positive rushing yards since the Week 4 trip to Kansas City and his most receptions/receiving yards since the Week 6 loss to the Broncos.

--Justin Thomas made his Patriots debut at tight end with 7 snaps (10 percent) on offense. He was targeted on one throw but did not record a catch.

--Wide receiver Donte Moncrief also made his Patriots debut with 4 snaps (6 percent) on offense in Houston. The veteran practice squad call-up had one catch on two targets for 15 yards.

--The Patriots played 61 total defensive snaps in Houston.

--Devin McCourty was the only Patriot to play all 61 defensive snaps. The veteran safety struggled at times, allowing a touchdown catch and getting run over by Deshaun Watson on Houston’s first two scores of the day.

--As has been the case all season, New England remained primarily a dime package defense, with six defensive backs playing at least 74 percent of the defensive snaps.

--Rookie safety Kyle Dugger topped 75 percent play time for the second straight game, notching 46 snaps (75 percent) in Houston. Dugger tied for second on the team with six tackles, including one for a loss, but was also one of many Patriots defenders who struggled in coverage at times.

--Chase Winovich was on the field for 53 snaps (87 percent) against the Texans, most of any Patriots front seven player. It was the second straight game Winovich played more than 85 percent of snaps, the first two times he’s topped the number this season. Winovich played more of his traditional edge role than the off-the-ball work he had a week earlier against Baltimore, finishing with just two assisted tackles in Houston.

--Ja’Whaun Bentley returned to the lineup against Houston after missing two games due to a groin injury. Bentley played 44 snaps (72 percent) and finished with five tackles, though only one was a solo stop.

--With Bentley back in action, practice squad call-up Terez Hall saw his role shrink with just 17 snaps (28 percent) against the Texans. Hall had played at least 66 percent of snaps over the previous two weeks with Bentley out.

--John Simon played 40 snaps (66 percent) in Houston, including work as an off-the-ball linebacker. Simon has consistently played between 60 and 80 percent of snaps all season. Simon had one tackle and a pass defense against the Texans.

--DL Isiah Mack, a waiver claim from the Titans who played as an undrafted rookie a year ago in Tennessee, made his Patriots debut in Houston. Mack played 11 snaps (18 percent) against the Texans, finishing with one assisted tackle.

--Second-year, second-round defensive back Joejuan Williams continues to struggle to find playing time in the Patriots deep defensive backfield. Williams played 6 snaps (10 percent) in Houston. Williams has played in just 14 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season, including single-digit snaps in seven of 10 games and zero defensive snaps in three different games. When Williams was on the field in Houston he joined the struggles in dealing with the Texans tight ends, trailing Jordan Akins on a 24-yard second-quarter catch-and-run.

--Rookie linebackers Josh Uche (22 snaps, 36 percent) and Anfernee Jennings (6 snaps, 10 percent) continued to see limited playing time.
Uche had one tackle.

--New England had 16 guys play at least a quarter of the defensive snaps in Houston.