Shane Vereen is the ideal candidate to replace Danny Woodhead‘s role in the New England Patriots offense, and the uncertain situation surrounding the Patriots pass-catchers means that Vereen will be looking at an expanded role this coming season. Vereen is a definite breakout candidate heading into his third season in the league, and he showed last year that he has plenty of playmaking ability. Remember his touchdown scamper on a short pass against the New York Jets? How about the time he replaced Woodhead in the playoffs against the Houston Texans with five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns (Vereen also had a rushing touchdown).
Patriots Football Weekly writer Paul Perillo informed us on the Patriots official site that the Pats utilized Shane Vereen as a wide receiver in spring practices. Vereen would end up getting covered by a linebacker, even though he was lining up as a traditional receiver on the outside. As Perillo notes, this was a similar situation for Vereen when he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass against the Texans in the playoffs.
Vereen’s playmaking ability as a pass-catcher and his versatility to line up around the formation make him an ideal candidate to help replace Aaron Hernandez in production and in schematic usage. I want to see Vereen lined up in the backfield in two-back sets, in the slot, and occasionally as a wide receiver on the outside. It would be nice to have him lined up in a two-back set at first, and then set him out in motion on the outside or in the slot. That could lead a linebacker to have to shift over and cover him, and there are a whole lot of possibilities for Josh McDaniels and the New England Patriots when considering Vereen’s explosiveness. It’s time for the Patriots to harness that, much in the same way they harnessed Aaron Hernandez’s playmaking and versatility at the tight end position.