Snaps: Easing Jones back in mix

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Snaps played by Patriots defenders in Monday’s 42-14 win over the Texans, and analyzing what it means (small margin for error):

S/CB Devin McCourty – 69 of 70

LB Jerod Mayo – 64 of 70

S Steve Gregory – 63 of 70

LB Dont’a Hightower – 61 of 70

DE Rob Ninkovich – 55 of 70

CB Alfonzo Dennard – 53 of 70

DL Vince Wilfork – 50 of 70

DL Brandon Deaderick – 47 of 70

LB Brandon Spikes – 46 of 70

DE Chandler Jones – 41 of 70

CB Kyle Arrington – 39 of 70

DE Trevor Scott -- 38 of 70

CB Aqib Talib – 35 of 70

DL Kyle Love – 32 of 70

DE/DL Justin Francis – 17 of 70

S Tavon Wilson – 17 of 70

S Patrick Chung – 16 of 70

CB Marquice Cole – 14 of 70

LB Tracy White – 9 of 70

LB Mike Rivera – 5 of 70

(Includes penalties; one extra snap because of 12-men-on-the-field penalty)

ANALYSIS: With rookie Chandler Jones returning from an ankle injury for the first time since Nov. 18, the Patriots utilized him as the third man in as part of a three-man rotation at defensive end. Rob Ninkovich and Trevor Scott started at the end spots. Prior to his ankle injury, Jones was logging more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps. This could be a one-week type of deal, or the start of a larger rotation that possibly benefits Jones in terms of keeping him fresh. … Rookie end Justin Francis was used in the Jermaine Cunningham interior rush role in sub packages. … Linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower split snaps in the nickel. … Of Patrick Chung’s 16 snaps, 14 come on the final three drives when the outcome was well in hand. He has really fallen out of favor when all players are healthy, as rookie Tavon Wilson is playing over him in the dime. Chung is essentially a special teamer and depth option at this point, which is a hard fall for the 2009 second-round draft choice who opened the year as a starter. … The last few weeks has seen a change at the defensive tackle spot next to Vince Wilfork, as Brandon Deaderick is taking some snaps away from Kyle Love.