In Week 11, the Patriots will get back a major piece of their offense with the return of running back, Shane Vereen. After breaking a bone in his hand following his breakout Week 1 performance, Vereen is finally available to play again. The Patriots offense will receive a significant boost in firepower with the return of a player as versatile as Vereen. His varied skill set opens up almost limitless possibilities for the New England offense. Vereen has the rare ability, as a running back, to lineup on the outside as a wide receiver, in the slot, or anywhere in the backfield. He’s essentially equal parts running back and receiver.
During his days as a Cal Bear, Vereen caught 74 balls for 674 yards and six touchdowns to go with his 556 carries for 2,834 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons. Vereen likely developed his superior receiving skills from his Father, Henry Vereen. Henry starred as a wide receiver for UNLV and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 9th round of the 1979 NFL Draft. Growing up the son of an NFL receiver it’s hard to imagine Henry didn’t teach Shane every imaginable trick of the receiving trade. The result is an NFL running back with a legitimate receiving skill set that could rival any wide out in the league.
Vereen’s route running is noticeably smooth and his knack for finding space in the defense is impressive. Look for Tom Brady and Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniels, to be moving Vereen all over the field when he returns in Week 11. He should be relied heavily upon for the rest of 2013 as the Patriots “receiving” back. Josh McDaniels will likely use Vereen to create advantageous mismatches, especially in no huddle situations before defenses have a chance to adjust their personnel. As a dual threat, Vereen should have a field day exposing slower linebackers and weaker defensive backs. Opposing defenses will in turn be forced to respect Vereen as either a potential ball carrier or receiving threat. His presence in the passing game will only aid in opening up running lanes for fellow backfield mate, Stevan Ridley.
Vereen has all the tools. He has track star speed, the receiving skills of a polished NFL wide receiver, and he’s a more than capable runner who isn’t afraid of contact. The time is now for Vereen and it couldn’t come at a more opportune spot for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Now we just have to see if he can stay on the field for the rest of the season.