The reasoning was unclear, but New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen played only 48 of 81 snaps in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. That may seem like a high number, but it is not nearly high enough for a player who has established himself as one of the primary weapons on offense. He needs to be playing more.
If one had to guess, Vereen only played such a limited amount of snaps because Josh McDaniels does not trust him as a workhorse running back. However, Vereen has hardly gotten a chance to prove that he can be that guy. McDaniels has mostly utilized Vereen as a pass-catching running back thus far, and that is what Vereen’s strength is. But as time wears on one cannot help but notice that Vereen is the most explosive running back in the stable.
Vereen’s ability to bounce to the outside fits McDaniels’ offense perfectly. The Patriots’ offensive linemen follow a zone-blocking scheme, which means that they are taught to block in space. That means that a running back who likes to run to the outside is perfect for that type of strategy. Vereen can follow his athletic offensive linemen in space and make big plays in the ground game.
Although this is true, McDaniels must fear that Vereen’s lack of size means he can’t consistently handle a huge workload. That idea needs to be put to rest. The young running back is averaging five yards-per-carry and is the latest of small running backs to take the NFL by storm. If Jamaal Charles can do what he is doing at about 200 pounds, Vereen can certainly handle running the ball at 205 pounds.
Vereen does not need to see every touch out of the backfield, but he should be playing much more than just 59.3 percent of the offensive snaps. In an ideal world, Vereen should be playing around 80 percent of the time. That might help Tom Brady and friends put up more than just 20 points.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.