New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen is ready to take on a major role in the Patriots offense this season, and he’s already been impressing in training camp. The Patriots, as they did in OTAs and minicamp, are splitting Vereen out wide and also utilizing him as a slot receiver in practices. Vereen not only has great hands out of the backfield, but he is also adept at catching passes as a receiver and is an even better receiving RB than Danny Woodhead. While Woodhead has the better of Vereen on the ground, Vereen’s explosiveness, versatility, and agility make him a perfect weapon to help replace both Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez. Vereen is also perfectly capable of running the ball for a respectable yards per carry average, and he can be a secret weapon for the Patriots.
I don’t really see a huge breakout year for Vereen, because I view him as a piece than rather a staple in the offense. But pieces are still important, and that’s especially true for a team as good as the Patriots. Vereen’s been getting a lot of reps in training camp, and Peter King has taken notice of Vereen at camp. King wrote what most of us believe and that is that Shane Vereen, “is going to get a lot of touches from the look of things”.
Jake Ballard missed Saturday’s practice with knee soreness as a precaution, and knee soreness is par for the course for a player recovering from microfracture surgery. What Ballard is suffering just goes to show you how hard it is to come back from microfracture surgery, and he has apparently gotten worse as training camp has gone on due to his knee. He was never athletic or agile to begin with, so hopefully the knee won’t have sapped out too much by the time he comes back healthy. I went into training camp thinking Ballard isn’t a true lock to make the roster, and I feel the same now due to the injury news. I really can’t see Ballard getting cut since he’s too good, but I also think that Ballard’s health means he’s not going to be the Patriots starting tight end when Rob Gronkowski is out (at least, not initially).
On the new NFL Insiders show, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen had this to say about Jake Ballard, ”He’s struggled so much there’s now a question whether he’ll make the roster”
I say he’ll make the roster and I would be shocked if he didn’t, but I also say that Ballard isn’t a lock and is unlikely to start.