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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

10.02.12 at 8:03 pm ET

Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Four weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley: 79 (74 rushes, 5 catches). 10 negative runs.
RB Danny Woodhead: 33 (29 rushes, 4 catches). 2 negative runs.
WR Brandon Lloyd: 25 (0 rushes, 25 catches).
WR Wes Welker: 25 (0 rushes, 25 catches).
RB Brandon Bolden: 24 (23 rushes, 1 catches). 3 negative runs.
TE Rob Gronkowski: 19 (0 rushes, 19 catches).
WR Julian Edelman: 12 (2 rushes, 10 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.
TE Aaron Hernandez: 7 (1 rush, 6 catches).
QB Tom Brady: 6 (6 rushes, 0 catches.) 8 sacks and 2 kneel downs.
WR Deion Branch: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
RB Shane Vereen: 2 (1 rush, 1 catch)
TE Kellen Winslow: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Daniel Fells: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TOTAL: 237 touches (136 rushes, 101 catches): 17 negative plays, plus eight sacks.

By position
Running back: 138 touches (127 rushes, 11 catches). 15 negative runs.
Tight end: 29 touches (1 rush, 28 catches).
Wide receiver: 64 touches (2 rushes, 62 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.

Other offensive notes: The big mover on the list this week was Bolden, who came into Sunday’€™s game with just seven touches over the first three weeks of the season, tied for seventh-most on the team. With 17 touches against the Bills, he moved to 24 on the season, good for fifth on the team. … The Patriots were in the in the no-huddle for 15 of their 77 snaps on Sunday against the Bills, or 19 percent. It was a season low. Through three weeks, the Patriots have been in no-huddle for 85 of their 299 plays from scrimmage, a rate of 28.4 percent. ‘€¦ The Patriots are tops in the league in total offense (438.3 yards per game) and points per game (33.5). They are eighth in the NFL in average rushing yards (144 yards per game) and sixth in the league in average passing yards (294.3 yards per game). … Through four games, the Patriots have attempted 154 passes and run the ball 137 times. … Thanks in large part to their 31-point fourth quarter against the Bills, the Patriots enjoy a plus-22 point differential in fourth-quarter scoring (49-27). They’€™ve also outscored their opponents in the first (30-9) and third quarters (31-28). The only quarter when they are getting outscored is the second (28-24). Overall, they hold a 134-92 scoring edge on their opponents through four games — their plus-42 mark is the second-best in the AFC, trailing only the Texans, who are at plus-70.

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