After going down with an injury in week one of the 2013 NFL season, the New England Patriots didn’t have running back Shane Vereen on the field again until week 11. Even with being out for so long and facing a vaunted Carolina Panthers defensive unit, Vereen was able to make his impact felt immediately.
Though he carried the ball only once for seven yards in week 11, Vereen caught eight passes for 65 yards in that game against Carolina. Vereen has become more of a threat in the passing game than anything as of late for the Pats, letting other backs for New England carry the majority of the workload on the ground.
In week 15 against the Miami Dolphins, though, it was the first time this season and since returning that Vereen had been ineffective. Miami made a point of emphasis to limit Vereen and it worked as he amassed just 21 total yards on five touches in the contest. That was the first time all season that Vereen had been held to less than 70 total yards in a game.
However, as is often the case with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, he’s going to be looking to make adjustments to try and get his key players in better situations. You would have to assume that Vereen fits that mold and that New England will be looking to free him up more in week 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Though the Ravens defense has continued to be a stingy unit this season and one that has historically cause New England some problems, Vereen is going to be key. His versatility keeps opposing defenses on their toes because you don’t know how the Pats are going to use him, whether it’s giving him a carry or using him as a pass-catcher, whenever he’s on the field. That type of versatility can help open up some holes in a defense and, if the Pats want to get back on the right track after dropping a disappointing game to Miami, they’ll need to get Vereen heavily involved.