Snaps: Safety depth & Chung

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Snaps played by Patriots defenders in Thursday’s win over the Jets, while analyzing what it might mean (small margin for error):

CB Alfonzo Dennard – 71 of 72

CB Aqib Talib – 71 of 72

LB Jerod Mayo – 65 of 72

S Devin McCourty – 65 of 72

DE Rob Ninkovich -- 65 of 72

DE Jermaine Cunningham – 64 of 72

S Steve Gregory – 61 of 72

LB Brandon Spikes – 51 of 72

DL Vince Wilfork – 50 of 72

LB Dont’a Hightower – 42 of 72

DL Brandon Deaderick – 37 of 72

CB Kyle Arrington – 31 of 72

DL Kyle Love – 27 of 72

S Patrick Chung – 22 of 72

DE Trevor Scott – 19 of 72

DE Justin Francis – 18 of 72

DL Ron Brace – 10 of 72

S Tavon Wilson – 8 of 72

CB Derrick Martin – 7 of 72

LB Tracy White—7 of 72

LB Mike Rivera – 1 of 72

(Penalties included.)

ANALYSIS: The depth at safety stood out most, as the trouble spot looks like it’s been stabilized a bit. With the Patriots keeping Devin McCourty at safety, the team opened with a McCourty/Steve Gregory combination, and had Patrick Chung come on as part of one of their two nickel packages. The role of Chung, a former starter, could be intriguing to watch in the weeks to come. Can he get his starting spot back? Or will be remain in a reserve role, like he was as a rookie in 2009? This was Chung’s first game back on the field since Oct. 14 (shoulder/hamstring injuries). … The depth at safety was also reflected with rookie Tavon Wilson playing just 8 snaps, with seven of them coming on the final two drives. Wilson, the dime back, wasn’t a big part of the plan in part because of Chung’s return, and also because the Patriots didn’t need to go small against the Jets’ less-than-threatening passing attack. … The lone snap not played by starting CBs Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard came on the goal-line. … Dennard starting on the right side over Kyle Arrington is a notable change on the depth chart. Arrington played as the slot corner in one of the Patriots’ two nickel packages. … Brandon Deaderick was worked more into the mix at interior d-line, marking the first time his snap total surpassed starter Kyle Love. … Vince Wilfork had a 35/15 split between first half/second half snaps, as his power was on display on the bizarre Mark Sanchez fumble in which Sanchez ran into the backside of guard Brandon Moore, who was controlled by Wilfork. … Professional toughness displayed by DE Rob Ninkovich, who left for the locker room in the first quarter after injuring himself while playing on the punt team, but didn’t miss a snap. He played every snap in the first half and then 23 of the first 30 in the second half before getting a well-deserved break.