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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

09.14.13 at 10:00 am 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. Two weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2013:

RB Stevan Ridley: 25 (25 rushes, 0 catches), 5 negative plays, 1 fumble lost
RB Shane Vereen: 21 (14 rushes, 7 catches)
WR Julian Edelman: 21 (1 rushes, 20 catches)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 11 (11 rushes, 0 catches), 2 negative plays
WR Danny Amendola: 10 (0 rushes, 10 catches)
QB Tom Brady: 7 (7 rushes, 0 catches), 3 sacks, 4 kneeldowns, 1 fumble lost
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (0 rushes, 6 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
FB James Develin: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)

Some offensive notes: No counting Brady’s game-ending kneel down, the Patriots finished with six negative plays against the Jets — four on runs from Ridley, one on a run from Blount, and another on a sack of the quarterback. On the year, the Patriots have run 153 plays from scrimmage, and have come away with a total of 10 negative plays. (Even though we did last week, going forward — even though they technically count — we will take kneel downs out of the mix when it comes to adding up the negative plays. Doesn’t seem quite fair.) ‘€¦ When it comes to no huddle, through two weeks, the Patriots have gone no huddle on a total of 13 plays (eight the first week against the Bills and five on Thursday against the Jets). That represents 11.8 percent of their total plays from scrimmage. (By way of comparison, the Patriots were in no huddle an average of 25 percent for the last two regular seasons.).

One more thing: Regardless of whether or not they are catching the ball, the level of involvement for Thompkins and Dobson is absolutely unprecedented when you’re talking about rookie receivers in the New England offense. Simply put, no two wide receivers have been so much a part of the passing game in their first two games as Thompkins and Dobson, Thompkins in particular. While targets can sometimes be an inexact measuring stick, it’s still amazing that Thompkins has 21 targets through the first two games, which would put him on pace for a ridiculous 168 targets. (For some comparison, Wes Welker led the 2012 team with 175 targets.) It’s not sustainable for several reasons, including the fact that his chances will inevitably drop when Amendola and Vereen return and Rob Gronkowski gets on the field. But he’s almost halfway to 50, and he’s almost certain to break Edelman’s unofficial rookie record for receivers under Brady — 54, set in 2009. (Targets were first compiled by the league in 2009, but the only other rookie receiver under Tom Brady who could have come close was Deion Branch, who had 43 catches as a rookie in 2002.)

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