Vereen's return signals inception of long-awaited juggernaut
This is what Patriots' fans have been waiting all season to see.
a bright late summer afternoon in September, the New England Patriots
started their season with plenty of mystery and intrigue associated with
their new look offense - what with slot receiver Wes Welker essentially
being fired, Danny Woodhead signing with San Diego for what amounts to
chump change and Aaron Hernandez landing in the juzgado...
Patriots' fans hope to see plenty of this going forward
...also with all-world tight end Rob
Gronkowski on the mend from more surgeries than a porn starlet, the team
starting the year with three rookie receivers, an odd assortment of
tight ends that all put together couldn't match the production of a
Gronk having a bad day, and an offensive line whose collective pass
blocking skill was under scrutiny after being exposed by the Detroit
Lions in the preseason.
But the one thing that the
Patriots could count on was a running back corps that was so diverse and
individually talented that their potential to build upon last season's
success was very real and, as we saw in that season opener, promised to
be the cornerstone of a new offensive philosophy.
But it took all of one play for the unit to absorb a cruel hit that would take over two months to recover from.
the very first offensive play of the season, running back Shane Vereen
broke a bone in his wrist and was eventually placed on the teams'
Injured Reserved List with a designation to return - but took a page out
of Logan Mankins book of pain and taped an aspirin to his wrist and
finished the game with 101 yards rushing on 14 carries and added another
58 yards on four pass receptions, giving us a tantalizing taste of what
we could expect from him upon his return...
looks more and more like that's going to be on Monday night when the New
England Patriots travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to to take on the
Carolina Panthers under the lights at Bank of America Stadium.
that Vereen picks up where he left off in Buffalo, he will join
explosive lead back Stevan Ridley and grinding clock killer LeGarrette
Blount in a backfield which may suddenly become one of the most
dangerous units in the National Football League.
combined with a healthy group of pass catchers featuring Gronkowski,
Danny Amendola and rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins,
all the pieces to the offensive juggernaut are finally in place.
skill set speaks to New England's need for a true all-purpose back, the
final piece to the puzzle - tough between the tackles runner with
ankle-breaking moves on the second level and an extra gear in the open
field, and in the passing game he enables the jailbreak screen, can line
up in the slot or outside the numbers and has terrific hands.
presence of an all-purpose back opens up the entire playbook for coach
Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, but also increases the
probability for success in other areas.
Gronkowski's return made an immediate impact on both the space that the
other pass catchers had to work with and the efficiency of the running
game, Vereen's return should enhance those things to the point of
overwhelming the opposing defense.
So the gang's all
together for the first time this season, and it's going to be a treat to
see just how explosive a unit the Patriots' offense evolves into going