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Meriweather tops playtime chart

A look at the percentage of snaps played by Patriots defenders throughout the season (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

S Brandon Meriweather – 95.5 percent

ILB Gary Guyton – 84.5 percent

CB Leigh Bodden – 82.5 percent

ILB Jerod Mayo – 73.7 percent

S Brandon McGowan – 72.5 percent

OLB Tully Banta-Cain – 66.7 percent

DL Mike Wright – 57.9 percent

DE Derrick Burgess – 57.3 percent

DL Jarvis Green – 57.2 percent

CB Jonathan Wilhite – 57.0 percent

OLB Adalius Thomas – 54.1 percent

NT Vince Wilfork – 51.8 percent

CB Darius Butler – 51.2 percent

CB Shawn Springs – 50.8 percent

DE Ty Warren – 44.4 percent

S James Sanders – 38.3 percent

DL Myron Pryor – 27.1 percent

S Pat Chung – 20.5 percent

OLB Pierre Woods – 20.1 percent

LB Rob Ninkovich – 12.6 percent

ILB Junior Seau – 11.9 percent

DL Ron Brace – 5.1 percent

CB Terrence Wheatley – 2.2 percent

DL Titus Adams – 2.0 percent

DL Terdell Sands – 1.4 percent

S Bret Lockett – 0.9 percent

LB Eric Alexander – 0.3 percent

S Randy Moss – 0.2 percent

ANALYSIS: Meriweather was one of the few three-down players for the defense this season on a consistent basis, along with Mayo. Mayo's playtime numbers are a bit lower because of his early-season knee injury ... Bodden's numbers would have been higher had he played in the season finale as he was a solid free-agent signing, ranking third in playtime and leading the defense with 17 passes defended ... Banta-Cain was another surprise, as few would have predicted him making such a contribution after two unproductive seasons in San Francisco ... Springs' midseason disappearance remains a mystery, which contibuted to his 50.8-percent total, but he's come on late in the season ... Butler topped all rookies, gaining some important experience ... Comparing Pryor (27.1 percent) and Brace (5.1 percent) is a reminder that draft status means little and young players develop at different rates ... Guyton took a step from third-down player to three-down player, only sometimes getting a breather to get Seau some reps at ILB ... Wheatley, a 2008 second-round draft choice, got buried behind a restocked cornerback group. Next year figures to be a defining point of his Patriots career.