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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

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 [1], 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. Fourteen games into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley: 258 (252 rushes, 6 catches). 24 negative runs.
RB Danny Woodhead [2]: 103 (70 rushes, 33 catches). 2 negative runs, 2 negative receptions.
WR Wes Welker [3]: 100 (0 rushes, 100 catches). 2 negative receptions.
WR Brandon Lloyd [4]: 67 (0 rushes, 67 catches).
RB Shane Vereen [5]: 62 (54 rushes, 8 catches). 3 negative run.
TE Rob Gronkowski [6]: 53 (0 rushes, 53 catches).
RB Brandon Bolden: 47 (45 rushes, 2 catches). 7 negative runs.
TE Aaron Hernandez [7]: 46 (1 rush, 45 catches). 2 negative receptions.
WR Julian Edelman [8]: 25 (4 rushes, 21 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.
QB Tom Brady [9]: 23 (23 rushes, 0 catches.) 23 sacks, 8 kneel downs, 1 negative run.
WR Deion Branch [10]: 13 (0 rushes, 13 catches).
QB Ryan Mallett [11]: 8 (8 rushes, all kneel downs).
TE Daniel Fells: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches).
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches).
TE Kellen Winslow [12]: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch).
WR Donte Stallworth: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
RB Lex Hilliard [13]: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
TOTAL: 814 touches (458 rushes, 356 catches): 45 negative plays, plus 23 sacks and 16 kneel downs.

By position
Running back: 471 touches (422 rushes, 49 catches). 36 negative runs, 2 negative reception.
Wide receiver: 206 touches (4 rushes, 202 catches). 3 negative receptions, 1 negative run.
Tight end: 106 touches (1 rush, 105 catches). 2 negative receptions.
Quarterback: 31 touches (31 rushes, 0 catches), 1 negative run.

By way of comparison, here’s a look at how things broke down through 14 games last season. [14]