CB Leonard Johnson chips in with solid work for the Patriots

Leonard Johnson, left, and cornerback Malcolm Butler had much to celebrate after keeping the Texans out of the end zone in the Patriots' win. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON -- Cornerback Leonard Johnson's contributions to the New England Patriots' 27-6 victory over the Houston Texans were hard to miss.

Signed to a two-year contract on Wednesday, the 5-foot-10, 202-pound Johnson played 42 of a possible 54 defensive snaps and showed up with two pass breakups ... and then a celebratory dance after each of them.

Johnson served as the No. 3 cornerback, playing mostly in sub packages, but also in a three-cornerback base package.

“He worked really hard this week,” noted coach Bill Belichick. “It was a long week, a lot of extra work, a lot of extra meetings, some good competitive time on the practice field. Got to give him a lot of credit -- he came in, learned and his teammates embraced it ... ."

Johnson, who entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, played in 48 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first three seasons in the league. His first two years came under Greg Schiano, who is a confidant of Bill Belichick.

Johnson was on injured reserve this year with Tampa, and when the Buccaneers released him, it made him a free agent. The Patriots moved quickly.

“I didn't expect to come in and start,” the personable Johnson said after opening the game on the field based on the offensive personnel the Texans had on the field (three wide receivers, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and RB Chris Polk).

“Football is football. Once I was out there, I was just able to put myself in position to execute the calls. I don't think I was rusty. My conditioning was a little bad, but there's no way to get in football shape other than playing football.”

Johnson's work is the obvious place to start as he leads off this week's snap-count analysis:

Total offensive snaps: 67

Total defensive snaps: 54


Malcolm Butler – 54

Logan Ryan – 54

Leonard Johnson – 42

Notes: Johnson elevated to the No. 3 role over undrafted rookie Justin Coleman, who was filling that role until injuring his right thumb Nov. 8 against Washington. Meanwhile, Ryan's work on DeAndre Hopkins -- sometimes with help over the top -- was a big part of the game plan. Ryan is playing well, as is Butler. It's been impressive to watch.


Patrick Chung – 51

Devin McCourty – 30

Duron Harmon – 29

Nate Ebner – 10

Jordan Richards – 4

Notes: McCourty left in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and while he might miss some time, the initial sense among his teammates is that it wasn't a major situation that could end his season. As always, these types of situations are fluid and pending further testing. Harmon took over his role as the deep safety.


Jamie Collins – 54

Jerod Mayo – 41

Jonathan Freeny – 5

Jon Bostic – 2

Darius Fleming – 1

Notes: Collins, in his second game back from an undisclosed illness, went wire-to-wire for the first time after being managed a bit more carefully last week. Bostic started but didn't play on defense after that, while Freeny left with a hand injury and was seen with a cast over it after the game. Prior to film review, the sense is that this was Mayo's best game. His smarts and ability to help the defense adjust were important to tap in this type of game.

Defensive end

Rob Ninkovich – 47

Chandler Jones – 46

Jabaal Sheard – 35

Notes: These numbers reflect a three-man rotation that is keeping each player fresh, and also how they sometimes stay on the field together in obvious passing situations. The Patriots seemed to receive good results out of that package against the Texans.

Defensive tackle

Malcom Brown – 28

Alan Branch – 25

Akiem Hicks – 24

Dominique Easley – 12

Notes: Hicks, who was acquired in a trade from the Saints for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui earlier this year, looked like the best defensive lineman on the field for either team. And that's saying something when considering J.J. Watt was on the other side of the field. Easley left in the second half with a left thigh injury, and was seen riding the stationary bicycle on the sideline, as it didn't appear overly serious on the surface.

Offensive tackle

LT Sebastian Vollmer – 67

RT Marcus Cannon – 67

LG Shaq Mason – 67

RG Tre' Jackson – 67

C Bryan Stork – 61

C David Andrews – 6

Notes: The Patriots didn't adopt a rotation for the first time in ages, but Stork didn't finish. He explained after the game, with a smile, that his shoe gave out on him as he likes to wear the same pair of shoes until they go. That's why Andrews finished the game.

Running back

Brandon Bolden – 34

James White – 25

LeGarrette Blount – 15

Notes: Blount departed in the second quarter with a left hip injury and I didn't see him after the game. Credit to Bolden for filling in for Blount and running hard. White had his second straight strong performance, making defenders miss after the catch, and also showing reliable hands.

Wide receiver

Brandon LaFell – 62

Keshawn Martin – 50

Danny Amendola – 39

Matthew Slater – 4

Notes: LaFell's drops remain an issue to watch, but he seemed to finish his routes (something that came up against the Eagles) and run hard after the catch. Ditto for Martin, who had a solid game as a receiver with the only mark against him a muffed punt.

Tight end

Rob Gronkowski – 42

Michael Williams – 37

Asante Cleveland – 17

Cameron Fleming – 11

Scott Chandler – 1

Notes: Chandler's only snap came on Gronkowski's touchdown catch late in the second quarter. He was questionable entering the game with a knee injury. Gronkowski's snaps were split 19 in the first half, 22 in the second half.


Tom Brady – 67

Notes: Wire to wire, just as he likes it.