Patriots snap counts: Rex Burkhead fills the RB void


Patriots’ personnel packages and snap counts certainly vary from week to week and opponent to opponent.

As such, snapshot looks at the snap counts each week can be telling for that game and yet somewhat irrelevant to the next. Although, there can also be playing time trends that evolve on a week-to-week basis.

With that in mind, here are a few takeaways from the Patriots snap count totals from Sunday night’s hard-fought loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.

--Rex Burkhead played a running back-high 51 snaps (71 percent) against Seattle. It was more than double the number he had on opening day against Miami, likely explained by the last-minute deactivation of James White due to the tragic death of his father in a car accident in Florida. Burkhead’s snap total likely included those that would normally have gone to the versatile veteran as well as at least a portion of White’s projected snaps. It was Burkhead’s highest snap total since playing in 56 snaps in Week 3 a year ago against the Jets, a game White missed due to the birth of a child.

--Damiere Byrd led Patriots receivers with 62 snaps in Seattle (86 percent), one more than N’Keal Harry. It’s the second straight week to open the season that Byrd led New England receiver in snaps. With six catches on 72 yards in Seattle, and dating back to last season in Arizona, the speedy Byrd now has topped a half-dozen catches and 70-plus yards in three of his last five games played.

--Julian Edelman remained the third receiver in terms of snaps, though that grew to 52 plays (72 percent) in Seattle after notching a mere 37 snaps (58 percent) in Week 1’s win over Miami. He took advantage of his playing time, notching a career-high 179 yards through the air while tying Harry with a game-high eight receptions.

-- Ryan Izzo (70 snaps, 97 percent) continues to be by far the No. 1 tight end, while rookie Devin Asiasi remains in a limited role to open his NFL career. The third-round pick played 10 snaps (14 percent) against the Seahawks after also seeing just 10 snaps in the opener. Fellow rookie mid-round tight end Dalton Keene was inactive for the second straight week due to injury.

--Sony Michel’s snaps dropped slightly from Week 1 to Week 2. After seeing 19 plays (30 percent) including 10 carries against Miami, Michel had 15 snaps (21 percent) with seven rushes in Seattle. Michel’s production remains limited, averaging 3.3 yards per carry on the season while getting the ball handed to him on exactly 50 percent of the plays that he’s been on the field through two weeks of action.

--Veteran safeties Terrance Brooks and Joejuan Williams saw their playing time reduced dramatically against the Seahawks. After seeing action on 29 (47 percent) and 27 snaps (44 percent) respectively in the opener, Brooks played 6 snaps (10 percent) and Williams 8 snaps (13 percent) in Seattle.

--Meanwhile, rookie safety Kyle Dugger saw his snap total triple jump from 11 (18 percent) in the opener to 34 (54 percent) against Russell Wilson and Co.

--Despite struggling at times with the speed and athleticism of the Seahawks, middle linebacker captain Ja’Whaun Bentley played all 63 snaps in Seattle, joining Devin McCourty as the only two defenders on the field for every play in the game. Through two weeks, Bentley has played 114 defensive snaps, only McCourty and cornerback Stephon Gilmore having logged more playing time. Against a Seattle attack that averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 30 rushing attempts Bentley finished with a single solo tackle and three assists in the losing effort.

--At cornerback, J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty saw their playing time dip a bit, while Jonathan Jones was on the field more often in Seattle. Jackson went from 45 snaps (73 percent) against Miami to 38 snaps (60 percent) against the Seahawks. McCourty dropped from 46 snaps (74 percent) against the Dolphins to 30 snaps (48 percent) in Seattle. Meanwhile, Jones ticked up from 46 snaps (74 percent) in Week 1 to 59 snaps (94 percent) in Week 2. Jones also finished second on the team with seven tackles, all solo stops in Seattle.