Jerod Mayo's changing role with Patriots notable in win over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New England Patriots felt the absence of injured linebacker Dont'a Hightower in Sunday night’s 34-27 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Similar to the Oct. 11 win over Dallas, linebackers Jonathan Freeny (47 snaps) and Jerod Mayo (23) split Hightower’s responsibilities playing alongside Jamie Collins.

It was notable that Freeny opened the game as the No. 2 linebacker in the 4-2-5 nickel, a reflection of Mayo’s changing role with the team. Freeny finished with seven tackles, while Mayo didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

That was one of the things that stood out in the weekly snap-count analysis from Sunday night.

Total offensive snaps: 69

Total defensive snaps: 80


Collins – 80

Freeny – 47

Mayo – 23

NOTES: Collins has played every snap this season except for the break he received at the end of the Week 3 win over the Jaguars. He added five special-teams snaps as well Sunday night, with his blocked extra point an instant highlight. No. 4 linebacker Jonathan Bostic played only on special teams (20 snaps) and was at the heart of defending the key trick punt play late in the third quarter.


Chandler Jones – 73

Rob Ninkovich – 69

Jabaal Sheard – 15

NOTES: Jones was excellent with four tackles, 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hits, which doesn’t include drawing a holding penalty in the process. Sheard didn’t play in the second half after injuring his ankle, but he said after the game he didn’t think it was serious. With Sheard sidelined during the game, it was a throwback to recent years when Jones and Ninkovich pretty much played every snap. With Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers inactive, the Patriots also have depth on their roster to fall back on (Flowers has been sidelined with shoulder/knee injuries).


Sealver Siliga – 35

Dominique Easley – 30

Alan Branch – 28

Malcom Brown – 24

Akiem Hicks – 15

NOTES: Easley was disruptive as an interior rusher, with in-game statisticians crediting him with four quarterback hits. The Patriots opened the game with two big-bodied tackles in the middle of their 4-2-5 nickel with Siliga and Branch and then went with an Easley-Brown combination on the second series. They liberally switched up the combinations throughout, as this has become a nice area of depth for the team.


Devin McCourty – 80

Duron Harmon – 71

Patrick Chung – 70

Jordan Richards – 33

Tavon Wilson – 8

NOTES: The Patriots played a nickel package with three safeties for most of the game, a result of treating Colts tight end Coby Fleener like a wide receiver. When the Colts took Fleener off the field and inserted tight end Jack Doyle, that would lead the Patriots to substitute a linebacker over the fifth defensive back/third safety. With more time to dissect the plan, McCourty’s versatility to play cornerback-type responsibilities and also to help as a sound tackler warrants mention, with Harmon’s work in the deep part of the field giving the Patriots flexibility to use McCourty that way.


Malcolm Butler – 80

Logan Ryan – 80

Justin Coleman – 18

NOTES: At a position thin on depth, Butler and Ryan played competitively from start to finish, showing up with good ball skills and also sound tackling. The Patriots didn’t play too much of their three-cornerback nickel, which explains Coleman’s lower snap count.


C David Andrews – 69

RT/LT Sebastian Vollmer – 69

G Josh Kline – 60

RT Cameron Fleming – 58

G Shaq Mason – 56

G Tre' Jackson – 23

LT Marcus Cannon – 11

NOTES: Andrews, the undrafted rookie from Georgia, is the only Patriots player to play every snap this season. Vollmer turned in a professional effort when forced to flip from right tackle to left tackle after the first series, as a result of Cannon’s toe injury. Vollmer hadn’t played left tackle in a game since his rookie season in 2009. Meanwhile, Mason seems to be improving daily, as the playing time split between him and fellow fourth-round pick Jackson is widening.


Rob Gronkowski – 67

Michael Williams – 40

Scott Chandler – 22

NOTES: Chandler isn’t playing as much as initially forecast, and part of that might be because Williams offers more of a blocking presence on the edge, which takes on added importance given some of the Patriots’ personnel/injury issues at offensive tackle. Early on, the Colts matched the Gronkowski-Chandler two-TE package in a base defense, and the Patriots threw against it with success. But overall, Williams was used almost twice as often as Chandler.


Julian Edelman – 66

Danny Amendola – 41

Keshawn Martin – 37

NOTES: Edelman’s two drops/tipped ball that led to an interception contributed to this not being his best day, but it almost evens out when considering his clutch fourth-down run. Amendola was productive based on how much he was on the field, as he was targeted nine times and finished with seven catches for 105 yards. Martin leapfrogged the inactive Aaron Dobson on the depth chart for the second week in a row.


Dion Lewis – 39

LeGarrette Blount – 29

James White – 3

NOTES: The Patriots didn’t adopt the same power running approach on a consistent basis that they did against the Colts in 2014 -- perhaps in part due to an inexperienced, growing interior of the offensive line -- which meant Lewis continued in his role as the team’s top play-time back. But Blount made the most of his opportunities, showing how dangerous he can be when he builds up a head of steam (38-yard touchdown). The disappointment for the Patriots was the inability to sustain drives in the fourth quarter and bury the Colts (with three drives that went three-and-out).


Tom Brady – 69

NOTES: He wanted a stronger finish.