In 2011 the New England Patriots drafted two running backs that would backup BenJarvus Green-Ellis during their rookie seasons. When Green-Ellis left for Cincinnati via free agency this past offseason the Patriots running game was handed to those two young running backs, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. But the signing of a relatively unknown undrafted free agent this past offseason in addition to Vereen’s injury has changed things. Now Vereen has an opportunity to prove himself.
The departure of Green-Ellis made way for Ridley and Vereen to share carries this season but a foot injury prior to the season put Vereen out for the first few weeks. While Vereen was out, undrafted free agent Brandon Bolden surprised everyone with outstanding performances which was highlighted in week four when the rookie rushed for 137 yards against the Buffalo Bills. The play of Bolden led many to wonder what would happen when Vereen returned.
Now Bolden has been sidelined with a knee injury which has given Vereen an opportunity to reclaim his spot as the Patriots second string running back. Vereen jumped back into the fray in week seven against the New York Jets when Bolden was first sidelined. But unlike Bolden, Vereen hasn’t had a breakout performance yet. Coming off a bye week, Vereen will have his third opportunity to prove himself as the team’s second best running back.
When Vereen went down with a foot injury, Bolden took advantage creating a stir about who should be the team’s second running back when all three are healthy. Now that Vereen is healthy and Bolden is suffering from a knee injury, Vereen has that same opportunity. The question is whether Vereen will be able to take advantage of that opportunity before Bolden returns. He’ll get his next chance on Sunday afternoon when the Patriots host the Bills at Gillette Stadium.