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Patriots carried extra TE on game-day roster with Martellus Bennett

DENVER -- New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett shared a story after Sunday night's 41-16 win against the Denver Broncos about how quarterback Tom Brady texted him after he had been waived by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday. Brady was curious what Bennett was doing, and according to Bennett said, "I am intrigued."

It might have been Brady's way of planting a seed for Bennett to consider playing in 2017, if things worked out and the Patriots were awarded him on waivers late Thursday afternoon.

That's the way it turned out, with Bennett playing seven snaps Sunday night, and making an immediate impact with three catches for 38 yards. He had catches on his first two plays.

"It is pretty amazing to think that you can pick a player up on Friday and he can contribute on Sunday, but Marty is smart, he really wants to do a good job," Brady said Monday morning on sports radio WEEI's "Kirk and Callahan" program. "It's great to have him back. I felt like it could be a real positive, knowing how talented he is. I've got a lot of big throws in big-time games built up with him. I have a lot of trust in him. Any time you have players like that on your team, it just adds to it."

Bennett's return, and the team's tight-end-heavy game-day roster, leads off the weekly snap-count analysis:

Offense: 70

Defense: 63

TIGHT END

Rob Gronkowski: 61

Dwayne Allen: 20

Martellus Bennett: 7

Jacob Hollister: 2

This could be the norm going forward, with the Patriots carrying four tight ends on the game-day roster because Hollister plays on three of the four core special teams units. Allen broke through with his first catch, and it was a big one, an 11-yard touchdown. Gronkowski, meanwhile, felt he decisively had a touchdown but it was ruled otherwise.

FULLBACK

James Develin: 45

Develin's previous high this season was 29, and his high from the 2016 season was 43. Develin brings an element of physicality and toughness to the offense, and also helps dictate matchups. In this game, it seemed like the Patriots wanted him on the field so they could attack the Broncos' base defense.

RUNNING BACK

Rex Burkhead: 36

Dion Lewis: 21

James White: 11

Brandon Bolden: 3

Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch for the first time this season, as the Patriots needed to trim from another area of the roster with four tight ends and five linebackers active. Because Gillislee doesn't contribute in a front-line role on special teams, and had slipped to No. 4 on the running back depth chart, he was the choice. Burkhead's workload is rising since returning from missing four games with an injury to his ribs: 13, 27 and now 36 snaps. "It's always fun whenever you get your number is called, the coaches trusting you and relying on you," Burkhead said. "Every week it's a different gameplan, that's how we are."

OFFENSIVE LINE

LG Joe Thuney: 70

RG: Shaq Mason: 70

RT: LaAdrian Waddle: 70

LT Nate Solder: 61

C David Andrews: 61

RT Cameron Fleming: 9

C Ted Karras: 9

Solder and Andrews were pulled on the final series, with the outcome in hand, which marked the first time that has happened this season. Waddle stepped in for injured starter Marcus Cannon at right tackle and was one of the team's top performers. "The offensive line played incredible," Brady said on WEEI. "You know the challenge they were up against; any time you play against a team that rushes the quarterback like they do. They stepped up to the challenge. Any Von Miller-led defense is going to be tough. I thought we did a good job playing more on our terms."

WIDE RECEIVER

Brandin Cooks: 68

Phillip Dorsett: 49

Danny Amendola: 27

Dorsett stepped in for the injured Chris Hogan (shoulder) with his highest snap total of the season. His previous high was 32 against the Saints in Week 2. Dorsett had two catches for 16 yards. Said Brady on WEEI: "He hasn't had much of a role and then he basically goes to a starting receiver; he's worked hard over the last 7-8 weeks and got his opportunity, went in there, and did a great job."

QUARTERBACK

Tom Brady: 61

Brian Hoyer: 9

Brady had played every snap this season up to this point, which reflects how the team had been playing in more close games. This was the first time the team was able to decisively pull away.

LINEBACKER

Kyle Van Noy: 62

Elandon Roberts: 38

David Harris: 30

Marquis Flowers: 19

Trevor Reilly: 8

As NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said during the broadcast, Van Noy has become a key part of the defense with his flexibility to play on and off the line of scrimmage, which is what the team needs with Dont'a Hightower out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Roberts and Harris also showed up with some notable hits, with Flowers coming on in obvious passing situations.

DEFENSIVE END

Trey Flowers: 56

Deatrich Wise Jr.: 32

The Patriots were light at this spot with Cassius Marsh (shoulder) out, and for the second game in a row relied on their linebackers to help account for that shortage of depth.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Adam Butler: 38

Lawrence Guy: 35

Alan Branch: 31

Ricky Jean Francois: 11

The Broncos had 118 rushing yards on 28 carries (4.2 average), which might be an indication that things could be tightened up a bit at the line of scrimmage. Malcom Brown (ankle) remained out for the second game in a row.

SAFETY

Devin McCourty: 63

Patrick Chung: 55

Duron Harmon: 47

Jordan Richards: 17

Chung's versatility continues to be tapped, as he sometimes aligned across from wide receivers, and other times tight ends.

CORNERBACK

Stephon Gilmore: 63

Malcolm Butler: 63

Jonathan Jones: 25

With Gilmore returning after missing three straight games with a concussion, he took back over for fill-in Johnson Bademosi and it was important for the defense to continue some of its momentum with him in the lineup.