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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game through the first 12 games of the 2012 regular season:

WR Wes Welker [1]: 92 catches on 133 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski [2]: 53 catches on 75 targets
WR Brandon Lloyd [3]: 50 catches on 89 targets
TE Aaron Hernandez [4]: 27 catches on 40 targets
RB Danny Woodhead [5]: 26 catches on 32 targets
WR Julian Edelman [6]: 21 catches on 32 targets
WR Deion Branch [7]: Nine catches on 20 targets
RB Shane Vereen [8]: Seven catches on 11 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: Six catches on 11 targets
TE Daniel Fells: Three catches on nine targets
RB Brandon Bolden: Two catches on two targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: Two catches on three targets
TE Kellen Winslow [9]: One catch on two targets
TOTALS: 299 catches on 459 targets

By position
Wide receiver: 172 catches on 274 targets
Tight end: 86 catches on 129 targets
Running back: 41 catches on 56 targets

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the targets through 12 games last season. [10]