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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

10.29.13 at 7:45 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. Eight weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2013:

RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (92 rushes, 6 catches), 8 negative rushes, 1 negative reception, 1 fumble lost
RB LeGarrette Blount: 65 (65 rushes, 0 catches), 8 negative runs, 1 fumble lost
RB Brandon Bolden: 52 (35 rushes, 17 catches), 3 negative runs, 1 negative reception
WR Julian Edelman: 50 (2 rushes, 48 catches), 5 dropped passes
WR Aaron Dobson: 26 (0 rushes, 26 catches), 1 negative reception, 6 dropped passes
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 23 (0 rushes, 23 catches), 7 dropped passes
QB Tom Brady: 23 (23 rushes, 0 catches), 22 sacks, 13 kneeldowns, 2 fumbles lost
RB Shane Vereen: 21 (14 rushes, 7 catches)
WR Danny Amendola: 20 (1 rush, 19 catches), 1 negative reception
TE Rob Gronkowski: 10 (0 rushes, 10 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 8 (0 rushes, 8 catches)
WR Austin Collie: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches)
FB James Develin: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
TE Matthew Mulligan: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
WR Josh Boyce: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)

Some offensive notes: The Patriots ran 62 plays on Sunday against the Dolphins and 11 of them were in shotgun, a rate of 18 percent, a season-low for shotgun totals for New England. To this point in the season, the Patriots have been in shotgun formation on 245 of their 562 offensive snaps, a rate of 44 percent. (Last year through eight games, the Patriots were in the shotgun for 314 of their 638 plays, a rate of 49 percent.) ‘€¦ Against the Dolphins, the Patriots were in no-huddle for 14 of their 62 snaps, a rate of 23 percent. On the year, the Patriots have operated in a no-huddle on 86 of their 562 plays from scrimmage ‘€” 15 percent of the time. ‘€¦ New England has run 562 offensive plays this year in eight games. Not counting kneeldowns, 44 have been for negative yardage. Of the 62 plays on Sunday against the Dolphins, six went for negative yardage ‘€” three sacks of Brady, as well as two negative plays from Blount and one from Bolden. ‘€¦ The 17 points the Patriots scored in the third quarter against Miami on Sunday tied a season-high for points in a quarter from New England — the Patriots had 17 in the second quarter of their 23-3 win over the Bucs on Sept. 22, as well as 17 points in the fourth quarter of their 30-23 win over the Falcons on Sept. 29. ‘€¦ Conversely, the three points they had in the first half against the Dolphins tied a season-low for points in a half, matching the three-point “outburst” they had in the first half of the Oct. 6 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati. ‘€¦ Dobson is on pace for 52 catches, while Thompkins is on pace for 46. Both would be tops for a rookie wide receiver under Brady. Deion Branch had 43 catches in 2002, while Edelman had 37 in 2009. (For what it’s worth, Aaron Hernandez had 45 catches and Gronkowski had 42 catches in their rookie season of 2010.)

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the offensive opportunities for the Patriots through the first eight games of 2012.

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