Given that he’s a 6-8, 380-pound behemoth, it’s no surprise that Patriots tackle Trent Brown has a massive impact on the New England offensive line.
When Brown was dealing with a calf injury for the first nine games of the season, it left a huge hole up front. Without its starting right tackle, the unit never seemed to really settle in.
But over the last seven games, Brown’s return and Ted Karras locking down the left guard spot has brought productive stability to the group.
Brown was on the only Patriots offensive player to log all 72 snaps in Sunday’s 50-10 blowout win over the Jaguars. He was a key cog for a unit that rushed for 181 yards and four touchdowns – two each for Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson – while allowing Mac Jones to throw the ball 30 times and for three touchdowns without being sacked.
In his Monday morning Zoom call with the local media, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made it clear just how big a role the big, athletic Brown plays in the success of the New England line and offense as a whole.
“Certainly, it’s been good to have him back. It’s changed a lot of things, offensively, for the better,” Belichick said of the second half of the season. “He’s been a really, really solid player for us in the running game and the passing game, keeping the width of the pocket and, overall, giving the quarterback more space to throw in there. It’s good to have him back, for sure.”
Beyond Brown serving as the only offensive player to log every snap as the Patriots emptied the bench against Jacksonville, here are some other notes from New England’s blowout win over the Jags:
--Quarterback Mac Jones played 59 snaps (82 percent) against Jacksonville before giving way to veteran backup Brian Hoyer (13 snaps, 18 percent) in the fourth quarter. Hoyer saw mop-up duty for the fifth time this season, his 13 snaps were one more than his 12 plays in a similar Week 7 54-13 blowout of the Jets at Gillette Stadium.
--Practice squad call-up Kristian Wilkerson played the second-most snaps of any Patriots offensive player, logging 60 (83 percent) in his first NFL start. Wilkerson was able to “cash in” on the playing time as Belichick described it, catching four passes for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the first statistics of his career. Not a bad day for the second-year former undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State.
--Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson logged the most snaps of any running back, playing 40 downs (56 percent) in the win. Taking over for Damien Harris (16 snaps, 22 percent) as the veteran starter continues to nurse a hamstring injury, Stevenson led the rushing attack with 19 carries for 107 yards (5.6 avg.) and a pair of touchdowns. It was Stevenson’s second 100-yard effort and two-score game, feats he also accomplished in the Week 10 blowout of the Browns.
--More than a full week removed from missing practice time to COVID, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne played 43 snaps (60 percent) against Jacksonville and was back making plays. Bourne had five catches on six targets for 76 yards, including a 46-yard catch-and-run.
--Fullback Jakob Johnson played 25 snaps (35 percent) against Jacksonville. New England is now 7-1 on the season when Johnson logs at least 20 snaps, the only loss coming in overtime to the Cowboys.
--New England played a season-low 47 total defensive snaps against Jacksonville, cornerback Jalen Mills the only Patriot on the field for every play.
--While Kyle Van Noy 39 snaps (83 percent) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (36 snaps, 77 percent) had the most playing time among front seven players, a few other notable names saw limited action against Jacksonville.
Coming off the COVID list and getting his “wind back,” Matt Judon was on the field for just 10 plays (21 percent), remaining on the sideline for the first three defensive series of the afternoon.
--Linebacker Dont’a Hightower had an instant impact with a third-down sack on the first series of the day, but then went on to play by far a season low with just 14 snaps (30 percent) in the easy win. Hightower did miss practice last Friday due to a knee injury.
--Jamie Collins also continues to have a limited role on defense, the veteran playing just eight plays (17 percent) against Jacksonville. Collins has been below 30-percent play time in seven of nine games played since his return to New England earlier this season.
--Eighteen different Patriots defenders played at least 25 percent of the snaps against Jacksonville.
--Matthew Slater, who saw one snap on offense, and Cody Davis led the special teams units with 19 snaps each. Justin Bethel had 18 snaps in the kicking game while getting on the field for eight plays on defense.
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