New England Patriots second-string running back Shane Vereen is the reason why the Patriots didn’t feel the need to overpay for Danny Woodhead, and he could very well end up being the better player than Woodhead, who was an incredibly clutch back. But Vereen has more shoes to fill than just Woodhead’s, as Vereen’s versatility and prowess as a pass-catcher continues to get him more looks as a wide receiver either in the slot or split out wide. This is part of the Patriots efforts to replace some of Aaron Hernandez’s playmaking ability and ability to make mis-matches, and it seems to be working perfectly.
New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) on the practice field during organized team activities at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
According to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, Shane Vereen has even been a “safety valve” for Tom Brady thus far in training camp, and I’ve read several training camp observation pieces in which Vereen received high praise. He’s the most explosive player on the Patriots offense, and he is probably the most versatile. What will be interesting to see, though, is if Vereen continues to get a solid number of carries sent his way, or if the Patriots opt to give those carries to Brandon Bolden and/or LeGarrette Blount during the regular season. As we saw when he missed all of September last season, Vereen does have some injury issues at times, so it is likely best for the Patriots to limit his carries so that he can be in full force to be that kind of weapon.
Then again, I have a feeling that the Patriots are just using Shane Vereen has a wrinkle in the offense as a receiver and not a player who will regularly be split out wide. Of course, that remains to be seen, but I have confidence in the three main rookie receivers, Danny Amendola, and even Julian Edelman.
Speaking of Edelman, he was injured at practice yesterday after falling on his foot, and it just seems like he (and, in a sense, “we”) just can’t catch a break (well, he can literally). Edelman looked great when he was playing and showed no signs of rust or post-injury pain, so let’s hope this is a minor injury. Let’s also hope it isn’t the same foot, because Edelman already had a setback on that foot this offseason, which he broke in December and was placed on the injured reserve.
Edelman knew he had ground to cover coming off of the PUP list, and he certainly made up that ground showing good hands, a continued great rapport with Tom Brady, and plenty of quickness. According to the Boston Globe, Edelman was getting reps with the first and second team offenses, so he was right in the thick of the competition and was regaining momentum by playing well. He just needs to stay healthy, and I think this latest injury shows that while he roster spot is still likely, it is far from guaranteed.