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HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots hands the ball to Rhamondre Stevenson #38 during the second half at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson returned to the active lineup in Sunday’s win over the Texans, and came close to delivering the go-ahead play in their fourth-quarter comeback.

Stevenson played 22 offensive snaps on Sunday, topping the five he played against the Dolphins in Week 1. Stevenson spent Weeks 2-4 on the inactive list before returning against Houston. His usage reflected limited snaps for Damien Harris (21), who appeared to be benched after fumbling at the goal line and also briefly left with a reported chest injury.

But the fact that Stevenson rose to the active roster in Houston, while J.J. Taylor was inactive, indicates that the rookie back out of Oklahoma was going to be part of the game plan either way. Stevenson finished with 11 carries for 23 yards, and had a late-fourth-quarter touchdown nullified by an illegal shift penalty.

It’s unclear whether Stevenson showed enough to earn a more regular role in the Patriots’ running back rotation going forward. But if Harris ends up missing time or snaps due to injury, they may have no choice.

Here’s a more in-depth look at how the Patriots used their offensive personnel against the Texans…

  • Snap Counts

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Brandon Bolden #25 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball as Desmond King #25 of the Houston Texans defends during the second half at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 10: Brandon Bolden #25 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball as Desmond King #25 of the Houston Texans defends during the second half at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

    Brandon Bolden led all Patriots running backs in offensive snaps (24) in this one, as Harris and Stevenson split time on the ground and the Pats had to throw more after going down multiple scores. Here are the full offensive snaps from the Pats’ skill position players, out of 64 total:

    Jakobi Meyers: 58
    Nelson Agholor: 43
    Jonnu Smith: 40
    Hunter Henry: 40
    Kendrick Bourne: 32
    Brandon Bolden: 24
    N’Keal Harry: 22
    Rhamondre Stevenson: 22
    Damien Harris: 21
    Jakob Johnson: 16
    Yasir Durant (as TE): 2

    Meyers continued to lead the way in terms of total workload. He missed six snaps due to the Pats opting for some heavier running packages (more on that below), but unsurprisingly, Meyers plays virtually every passing down. Meyers caught 4-of-5 targets for 54 yards. The lone incompletion was a drop on a deep ball, which could have gone for a long touchdown had Meyers caught it.

    N’Keal Harry (22 snaps) saw an uptick in his workload. He’s rotating into the three-receiver sets at times, but what stood out about Harry in this game was his increased usage as a blocker in the running game. Harry was targeted only two times and made one catch for five yards, but only played eight passing downs to begin with.

  • Personnel Packages

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots catches the ball for a touchdown during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 10: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots catches the ball for a touchdown during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    The Patriots had a fairly balanced offensive attack in terms of their personnel packages. The Patriots spent the majority of the 60 minutes trailing, so 48.4 percent of snaps in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) seems like a relatively low number. They mixed in a decent amount of snaps with two tight ends (12 personnel) or with two running backs, typically including fullback Jakob Johnson.

    Here’s the snap distribution by package:

    11 personnel: 48.4 percent (31 snaps)
    21 personnel: 26.6 percent (17)
    12 personnel: 21.9 percent (14)
    23 personnel: 3.1 percent (2)

    The Patriots’ go-to package in 11 personnel continues to be Bolden, tight end Hunter Henry, and Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne at receiver. Damien Harris (5 snaps in “11”) continues to occasionally mix in as part of those groupings, and even Stevenson got three snaps.

    Henry has emerged as the Patriots’ clear choice to play tight end in “11.” He played 22 snaps in that package, compared to nine for Jonnu Smith. Five of Henry’s six catches came in “11,” including his go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The sixth came on a snap in 12 personnel.

  • Running and Passing

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown during the first half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 10: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown during the first half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    The Patriots mixed up their personnel groupings more than usual, mainly due to increased usage for Harry and Stevenson. But other than 12 personnel, they weren’t particularly multiple or unpredictable within their packages when it comes to a balance of passing and running.

    Here’s how it broke down by package:

    11 personnel: 74.2 percent passing (23/31)
    21 personnel: 76.5 percent running (13/17)
    12 personnel: 57.1 percent running (8/14)
    23 personnel: 100 percent running (2/2)

    The Patriots certainly can’t run 12 personnel on every play, especially when they fall behind. But putting both Henry and Smith on the field is clearly their best chance to keep opposing defenses guessing as to what they’re going to do.

    There were two sweep plays, both out of 12 personnel. Bourne took a handoff on the Patriots’ first offensive drive with Agholor flanking him, in one of the few snaps Meyers missed. The other was a handoff to Smith, which came with Stevenson in at running back and Meyers/Agholor in at receiver.

    Harry played 12 snaps in two-receiver sets, nine of them running plays. It reflects the team turning to the big-bodied Harry as a run-blocker. Unfortunately, Harry’s run-blocking was spotty on Sunday, which is part of the reason he ended up with a “down” designation in the Ups & Downs.

    Unsurprisingly, the Patriots continue to pound the rock in 23 personnel, this time using Yasir Durant as the extra tackle/tight end. Harris’ early touchdown came in 23, but that was notably when the Patriots showed the Wildcat.

  • Third Down

    HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 10: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown during the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

    The Patriots’ go-to third-down package continues to be their go-to in 11 personnel: Bolden, Henry, Meyers, Agholor, and Bourne. Josh McDaniels deployed that group on six of 11 third-down snaps. Harry swapped in for Agholor on three plays.

    Two more third-down snaps were the Wildcat in 23 personnel, one of which resulted in Harris’ touchdown. The other didn’t convert, but it was the end of the game and appeared to be designed to kill the clock ahead of Nick Folk’s go-ahead field goal.

    Impressively, five different players made the Patriots’ six conversions on third down (Henry x2, Meyers, Agholor, Bourne, Harris). Who’s the go-to third down guy? The open guy.

    Overall, 6-for-11 is not a bad afternoon by the current standards of the Patriots offense.

  • Up Next...

    The Patriots have a legit challenge coming to Foxborough in Week 6, as they take on the Dallas Cowboys. This is a team with high-end talent on both sides of the ball. The Dak Prescott-led offense shouldn’t overshadow their defense, which should present a challenge for Mac Jones and McDaniels at all three levels.

    Next Patriots Personnel Report comes after Pats-Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 17.