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Shane Vereen has only played two games this season but in those two games he has shown some incredible potential. In his first game against Buffalo, Vereen had 14 carries for 101 yards. He also had 7 catches for 58 yards. In his second game against the Panthers, Vereen only had one carry for 7 yards, but led the team in both receptions, 8, and yards, 65. It is a very small sample size, but DAMN!

Photo via ESPN.com
The Patriots have had a long history of receiving backs, starting with Kevin Faulk. Faulk was a good running back, but wasn’t elite. His best season on the ground came in 2003 where he had 178 carries for 638 yards but no touchdowns. Where the Patriots truly utilized Faulk was in the passing game. Faulk ended his career with more receiving yards than rushing yards, 3,701 compared to 3,607. His touchdowns are basically equal as well, with 16 career TDs on the ground and 15 TDs from the air. The Patriots love small backs that they can slip out of the back field, matched up with a linebacker and get them open in space.

Look at Danny Woodhead. Woodhead was the next to fill the shoes of Faulk. Like Faulk, his best year rushing was sub 800 with 547 yards in 2010. But again, passing was where he did his damage. While there is no stat for third down conversations, Woodhead and Faulk were Brady’s go to targets on 3rd and short. The back would run out into the flat, Brady hits him in stride and boom, easy three yards. In fact, during the infamous 4th and 2 play against the Colts, that was exactly the play the Pats drew up: quick out to Faulk.

Why the history lesson? Because Vereen has the chance to be better than both these players, and arguably become one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL.

Vereen reminds me of one player that used to be on the Chargers, and now on the Saints: Darren Sproles. Sproles is your prototypical receiving back: small, fast, quick, and good hands. Sproles was, and still is, a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. In 2011, with the Saints, Sproles had 87 carries, 603 yards, 2 TDs, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He coupled that with 86 receptions for 710 yards and 7 receiving TDs. Those are insane numbers! INSANE!

I really think that Vereen has the chance to be that back for the Patriots. Vereen has all the tools to become an offensive force and I think the Patriots are one hundred precent willing to let the offense go through him. Just during that Panthers game he converted at least three big 3rd downs. Just got open, caught the ball, got the 1st. It looked too easy! I felt sorry for the Panthers D because it was like stealing. The injury this season has kept his true potential hidden, but I would be not the least surprise to have him become a huge story across the league over the remaining six weeks. Paired with fellow third year back Ridley, the Pats could have a potent back field for years to come.

- Pete Rogers
@ftcsports
@petahrahgas

Peter Rogers 11/22/2013 10:06:00 PM Edit
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