Bengals beat writer Paul Dehner on the Giovani Bernard/Jeremy Hill split once Bernard returns from injury: Running backs coach Kyle Caskey said on Beyond The Stripes the other night when I asked him about this that they already knew what Hill could do and this was the type of back he could be. I'd have to believe as hard as this team has tried to jumpstart this running game this season if he drops another 100-plus on the Browns tonight he will have earned an increase in his reps, particularly on first and second down. I'd imagine something much closer to a 50-50 split should be in order
Bernard saw 67% of the touches (carries + catches) when he was healthy, so a 50/50 split represent a drop in touches from 18.7 to 13.9 per game, though it's more likely he'll retain all (or most) of his receptions and simply split carries with Hill. If that's the case, he should see around 14.4 touches per game. It's still a significant drop for Bernard. He's averaging around 0.71 FP/touch, so he'd produce an estimated 10.2 PPG with a 14.4-touch workload. That's about what Chris Ivory and Eddie Lacy have averaged this season in standard formats. In short, Bernard would be an RB2 (instead of an RB1) if he splits carries with Hill. In PPR formats, he would score an estimated 13.3 PPG, which is a bit more than what Eddie Lacy has scored this season, so he'd be more of a low-end RB1 in PPR.
As for Hill, a 50/50 split in carries represents an increase to 13.3 touches per game (from 9.0). He has scored around 0.90 FP per touch in standard formats, so that would result in an estimated 12.0 FP on a 13.3-touch workload, which is more than Bernard's estimate. If we only prorate his pre-Week 9 production (i.e. not counting his huge game against the Jaguars), he would score about 10.7 PPG in standard formats, which is still a bit more more than Bernard. He would average about 12.5 in PPR formats, which is about what Shane Vereen has produced this season. Hill would be a high-end RB2 in a 50/50 split, though the Bengals may still favor Bernard in the running game, so consider this the best case scenario for HIll.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 8:25pm
Foster has caught 24 passes on those routes for 166 yards, which ranks 13th in the league among running backs. Foster also has two receiving touchdowns, more than all running backs except Ahmad Bradshaw, Forte and Marshawn Lynch.
Monday, October 27, 2014, 6:03pm
"It actually shocked me that it was that open," Gray said. "When you are in there you are doing everything you are supposed to do -- you are reading, you get your vision -- I'm like, oh, whoa, I just started sprinting full speed and couldn't believe that it just opened up like that. I was thinking I was supposed to score. I was so mad because I kind of stumbled a little bit. If I just hit it, I would have scored."
Gray had a breakout game on Sunday, leading the team with 17 carries and 86 yards on the ground. Gray's first run gave him a boost of confidence and set the tempo for him to carry the football a lot throughout the game. He displayed energy and confidence while showing his passion for the game.
It remains to be seen just what kind of role Gray will have going forward. He's the closest thing to Stevan Ridley, who is out for the year, the Pats had on their roster in terms of a bigger back, so there is certainly a need for Gray. Shane Vereen played but was battling an illness so that, along with a big lead, could have allowed the Pats to see what they have in Gray. For those struggling at the position, or just have a roster spot open to stash a player, Gray certainly has some fantasy potential, but it should probably involve at least another week of "waiting-and-seeing." The Pats host Denver in Week 9.
Friday, October 24, 2014, 6:26pm
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (illness, questionable) missed practice Friday and is questionable for Week 8. We’re not worried about Vereen’s status, though it will be something to monitor on Sunday morning when inactives are released. If he can’t play (not likely), then Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden and James White would divvy up the touches in the Patriot backfield. It wouldn’t be an attractive situation, though it would likely be Gray leading the team in carries in that scenario since he ran ahead of Bolden and White last week. Anything can happen with HC Bill Belichick calling the shots. If Vereen is active, he’s locked in as a high-end RB2 in a mediocre matchup against the Bears.
Running back Shane Vereen was not present for today's practice due to an illness, according to a source. It's the first time he missed a practice since the start of training camp, but there's no worry from Gillette Stadium because he was sick and not injured.
Vereen was surprisingly absent from Friday's practice, but it sounds as if he came down with the flu. He should be fine to face the Bears in Week 8.
*He's 5-foot-10, 230 pounds, the biggest tailback on the New England roster.
*Gray had a sensational senior season at Notre Dame in 2011, rushing for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 114 carries before tearing his ACL on Senior Day. He took the starting job from running back Cierre Wood when the Irish were 4-3. When he injured his knee, Notre Dame was 8-3.
*Gray earned his spot on the Patriots roster after a strong preseason, which included a 12-carry, 98-yard performance against Philadelphia.
*Gray rushed for over 2,600 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior at Detroit Country Day School. It's also the same high school that produced NBA players Chris Webber, Shane Battier and JaVale McGee.
*There were 18 running backs drafted in 2012. Gray was not among them. He signed futures contracts with Miami and then Baltimore, and hasn't carried the ball in a regular season game since his final game at Notre Dame in November, 2011.
It's telling that the Patriots elected to play Gray ahead of veteran Brandon Bolden on a short week. Shane Vereen led the running backs in touches with 16, while Gray saw three carries and Bolden had one catch. We would expect Gray's role to increase as he has more time to run with the first team in practice. Perhaps a role of 6-8 carries per game is in his future. Vereen's role expanded significantly in Week 7, but again, it was a short week of preparation.
This means that Gray is likely to be active for tonight's game against the Jets. It doesn't mean he's going to see significant snaps, but he may be in the mix. We're expecting Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden (career 4.5 YPC) to get most of Ridley's carries. Gray is a name to remember, however.
Out of the four backs, Gray most closely resembles Ridley as a power, north-south runner. He had a nice preseason effort against the Eagles, carrying 12 times for 98 yards. But that was Aug. 15, and this is the regular season.
The story also believes the Pats could get by with Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden. In the preseason, many on the Patriots beat felt James White was a guy who could eventually replace Vereen next season, so he doesn't seem like a candidate to get the between-the-tackles carries. The Pats running game has often been a mystery week-to-week and it looks like it's going to stay that way.
Much like his career in New England, Ridley was up and down this season after getting benched numerous times last season for fumbling. He was the best power runner on the team, so his presence will be missed. Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden will likely pick up the slack at least in Week 7 - a short week, Thursday night home game against the Jets. It's also possible we see more of James White, the rookie who gained a lot of popularity in the preseason. The only thing safe to say about this situation is it won't be very safe at all, as the Pats rushing attack is often specific to their opponent. Vereen will continue to be a usable back in PPR leagues, but Bolden has had his chances in the past and odds say he won't be the long-term answer. It's very possible the team brings in another back leading up to Week 8.
Ridley is the best pure runner on the Patriots and adds an element of toughness between the tackles that Shane Vereen simply doesn't bring to the table, the story added. Brandon Bolden stepped in to take some snaps in Ridley's place and would likely see more going forward. It's also possible we see some James White, a popular name in the preseason. The Pats have a quick turnaround and play Thursday night at home against the Jets so it's likely they ride with Vereen and Bolden in a tough matchup because they may not have time to add a bigger back who could provide significant snaps by Thursday.
Friday, September 19, 2014, 7:09pm
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 3. Vereen is expected to play, but owners should have James White on speed dial. He’d likely be active if Vereen can’t play. Brandon Bolden is in the mix as well. One thing is for sure — Stevan Ridley looks like a great start against a very bad Oakland rush defense. The Pats play early on Sunday.
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 6:30pm
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) took limited practice reps again Thursday. We’ll monitor his practice reps this week, but we’re guessing that he’ll be questionable heading into an early kickoff on Sunday. Stevan Ridley would be an excellent start if Vereen were limited/out.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 6:15pm
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) took limited practice reps Wednesday. This could explain the limited touches in Week 2. We’ll monitor his practice reps this week, but we’re guessing that he’ll be questionable heading into an early kickoff heading into Sunday. Stevan Ridley would be a great start if Vereen were limited/out.
Patriots players tell me they weren't happy with the way they ran the ball in the season opener and there will be a concerted effort to improve in that area Sunday in Minnesota. Shane Vereen (61 snaps) was the primary running back in the opener over Stevan Ridley (22 snaps) and Brandon Bolden (nine snaps). The team wants to feed that group a bit more, starting with Vereen. Players were impressed with how Vereen performed in early-down and short-yardage situations in the opener. Look for him to get more opportunities in those situations this week.
Vereen saw seven carries compared to Ridley's eight, which is more even than we were expecting heading into the season. This is great news for longtime 4for4 favorite Vereen, who is already a high-end RB2 in PPR formats without the extra carries. If he starts to get consistent looks in the running game (including red zone work, like he did in Week 1), watch out.
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