Shane Vereen is the only Patriots running back with a cemented status as they wind down their preparations for the regular season, and he showcased why last night during a 30-7 victory against the Panthers at Gillette Stadium.
Vereen caught all five passes thrown in his direction for 57 yards and two touchdowns, and he added six carries for 18 yards. While Stevan Ridley appears to be the favorite to corral the bulk of the carries and James White is shaping up as a worthy backup, Vereen has unquestionably solidified his job as the back in charge of the pass-catching responsibilities.
For a team run by Tom Brady, those chances will be aplenty.
“He’s really had such a dependable role for us for the last few years and just done a great job,” Brady said. “When the ball is in his hands, good things are happening for our team. We’re going to try to just keep getting him the ball.”
Vereen is one reason why we're not at all opposed to drafting one or two wideouts at the 1/2 turn since he's often available around the 3/4 turn and is great in PPR formats. Last year, over the course of eight regular season games and two playoff games, Vereen averaged 10.7 touches (including 5.4 catches) for 76 yards and 0.40 TD, though his usage in the running game was limited once the Patriots decided to lean on LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley between the tackles. With Blount gone, Vereen’s role could increase. He should be a fringe RB2 (at least) in standard formats and a solid RB2 in PPR leagues, provided he stays healthy.