Defensive snaps: Lot of nickel work

DETROIT – A look at the snaps played by top Patriots defenders in Saturday’s loss to the Lions, while looking deeper at what it might mean (small margin for error, as charted in press box):

LB Jerod Mayo – 60 of 60

CB Devin McCourty – 60 of 60

LB Gary Guyton – 60 of 60

CB Kyle Arrington – 45 of 60

CB Darius Butler – 45 of 60

DE Mark Anderson – 40 of 60

LB/DE Rob Ninkovich – 38 of 60

DT Vince Wilfork – 36 of 60

DT Myron Pryor – 33 of 60

DE Andre Carter – 29 of 60

S Patrick Chung – 28 of 60

S Sergio Brown – 27 of 60

S James Ihedigbo – 27 of 60

DT Gerard Warren – 27 of 60

DT Kyle Love – 24 of 60

S Brandon Meriweather – 19 of 60

S James Sanders – 19 of 60

DE Eric Moore – 17 of 60

CB Jonathan Wilhite – 15 of 60

DE Alex Silvestro – 8 of 60

LB Tracy White – 3 of 60

(Snaps include defensive holding, neutral zone infraction and illegal crackback block on offense.)

ANALYSIS: Top defensive players were on the field through the second drive of the third quarter. … A total of 60 snaps through that stretch is quite a bit for a preseason game. … In treating tight end Tony Scheffler like a receiver, the Patriots played a nickel defense for a good portion of the game, always using a cornerback as their fifth defensive back. … Because of that, it meant extended action for sub rusher Mark Anderson, who had a neutral zone infraction in the second quarter and was generally stymied by the Lions’ quick throws. … Rob Ninkovich is being used in a dual role – linebacker in the regular defense, and pass-rushing defensive end in sub packages. … The top four interior defensive linemen seem set – Vince Wilfork, Myron Pryor, Kyle Love and Gerard Warren. Add Albert Haynesworth and that is a deep top five. Unlike last year, the big guys are staying on the field on third down, but are being rotated on a series by series basis to keep them fresh. … Rookie free agent DE Alex Silvestro got some time with returning starters at the start in the third quarter.