When 2 players combine to equal 1

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The three-down player is rare in the New England Patriots' front seven on defense. Only inside linebacker Jerod Mayo truly falls into that category this year.

The thought came to mind when punching up the playing time totals for defenders through four games (data to be posted Friday morning), and this jumped off the page:

ILB Brandon Spikes -- 110 snaps

ILB Gary Guyton -- 109 snaps

Spikes plays on early downs in the Patriots' base 3-4 alignment. When the Patriots call on a sub defense, Guyton usually takes his place on the field.

So this is a case where two players actually equal one. While Spikes is considered the "starter", the playing time stats show that they're both really "starters."

A similar example came up along the defensive line, where Gerard Warren and Myron Pryor have both played 116 snaps apiece.