Shane Vereen is one of the NFL's best pass-catching backs, and he was a safety valve for quarterback Eli Manning. Vereen also was an asset in pass protection. Bobby Rainey figures to inherit many of Vereen's passing down snaps now, but he must do a lot to fill all the roles Vereen played. Rashad Jennings and Orleans Darkwa can also catch passes out of the backfield.
Related players: Paul Perkins
But the story kind of put a damper on Rainey's potential, saying they may not be able to use the short passing game like the did with Vereen. Instead, they may depend on Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard on screen and bubble passes more. Or, they may commit more to the run. The story added the team feels Perkins is ready to step up in the passing down role but added he struggled in preseason with pass protection.
It appears that reports of Giants RB Shane Vereen's demise were premature. The team sent out a press release about Vereen's injury later Monday afternoon that removed the "season-ending" characterization.
Vereen will be placed on injured reserve, but there is a chance that he could be activated if he heals before the end of the season. A rule allows teams to activate one player from IR each season.
A player has to be on injured reserve for at least six weeks before he is eligible to be activated. The player can return to game action after eight weeks. The NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that Vereen's recovery time is "in the area of two months." That means Vereen could possibly return in late November for the stretch run.
The New York Giants lost more than the game against Washington on Sunday. Running back Shane Vereen is out for the season with a triceps injury that requires surgery, the team announced on Monday afternoon.
Vereen is the team's passing-down back, and he assumed feature duties on Sunday in the absence of Rashad Jennings, who missed the game with an injury of his own. He was off to an excellent start to the season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and catching eight passes for 75 yards as well.
Giants beat writer James Kratch answered a question about the team's RB situation:
I expect the Giants to start the season with Rashad Jennings as their starting running back and Shane Vereen as the third down/hurry-up back, with Andre Williams being the short-yardage/change-of-pace guy.
I think rookie Paul Perkins could definitely make an impact, but my guess is that would come later in the season. If Jennings stays healthy, I think he can be the Giants' first 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012.
Kratch said it helped last year the Gaints broke up the RB committee down the stretch and as a result Jennings took over as the hot hand behind an improved offensive line. Jennings is 30th on our RB list but is another later-round selection who could produce as part of your fantasy committee.
Ralph Vacchiano discusses the Giants' backfield:
Rashad Jennings, who I like a lot more than most fans (and media) seem to like, will be the likely workhorse and get the majority of carries. (By the way, hard as it is to believe, he got 48.3% of the carries last year, though I'd expect that to tick up.) Shane Vereen will again be the third-down back and primary receiver-out-of-the-backfield weapon. Maybe they get a little more creative with him. Maybe he just plays better. But I see him being more of a factor.
And then? Good question. I don't think Paul Perkins, their fifth-round pick, will have much of an impact in the offense this year. I think Andre Williams will likely get the first shot to be the short-yardage back, and the guy who spells Jennings for a series or two. How long that lasts depends on him. And I think Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey have an uphill battle to make the roster.
Vacchiano also mentioned that the RB breakdown may depend on which coach came up with the "stupid" four-running back rotation the team used last year. If it was the now-departed Tom Coughlin, then the Giants will primarily use two or three running backs. If it was former OC/new HC Ben McAdoo, then all bets are off.
It sounds as if the Giants are looking more at their running backs than the offensive line for their run game failures. McAdoo made it clear that he's looking for significantly more from his runners.
Even when there isn't much room to run, he expects them to gain more yards. When they're in 1-on-1 situations, they need to beat their defenders more frequently. When their is contact, they need to fall forward for a few more yards. Each every one of them is valuable.
"For the backs, the biggest thing for the backs is they need to be aware of the situation," McAdoo said. "When there's one yard to go, they need to get that yard on third and one. When you get 1-on-1 with a safety, we expect our backs to beat that safety and take one the distance, and we haven't done that yet and it's a challenge on them to do that. We expect them to do it and we count on them to do it."
The article considers this a challenge, which means the team may be looking for someone to step up and claim a bigger role. Vereen's role seems pretty set as the third down back, but Jennings, Darkwa and Williams look like they are battling it out for more early down work. Until someone does step up, this is a fantasy situation to avoid outside of Vereen in PPR leagues.
The second-year running back from Wisconsin has 16 carries and 12 catches in his career. He spent 2014 behind Shane Vereen and this year behind Lewis. He’s a player that’s smart, knows where he’s supposed to be, has natural hands and good speed. My gripe with his game is that he went down a little too easily as a rookie. He came back bulked up this year and showed glimpses of being able to run through contact a little more. He’ll also – once he gets some confidence – be able to show whether he can string moves together and be more elusive than he’s shown.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is optimistic.
“James is a very consistent guy,” he explained. “He comes to work. He's got a great attitude and approach, is always prepared to go in and fulfill any of the roles that we have for our backs. He's a dependable guy. He can handle a lot of different assignments, and then when we've needed him to play this season, he's certainly been a guy who has done a decent job in blitz pickup. He's caught the football well out of the backfield, and then he's made yards with it when he's had it in his hands.
“James is a guy who continues to get better,” he added. “Hopefully his best football is in front of him. You know, he's still a young player, has only been in our system for a year and a half here I think. And going forward, whatever his role is, I'm sure James will be prepared, and will give our team everything he has. So I really like his approach and his mentality, and he's got a maturity about him that I really feel good about. He'll have an opportunity now to step in there and play a little bit more with Dion’s situation.”
White figures to get most of Lewis's touches, but Blount is likely to see an uptick in carries as well. White is not the player that Lewis is, but he's able to adequately take over the role. Those owners hurting at running back -- especially in PPR formats -- shouldn't be afraid to bid some FAAB dollars on White this week.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning spent an additional 30 minutes at the end of Thursday's practice throwing to running backs Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings, who were lining up in wide receiver spots rather than in the backfield during the drill. With the Giants banged up at wide receiver -- Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle are nursing hamstring injuries, Victor Cruz is still out with a calf injury -- it's possible they could get creative in the ways they line up and use their backs.
Vereen's usage has been up and down this season. He had 12 catches in the first two games and then failed to register a catch (on just three targets) in Week 3 and Week 4. Then, against the 49ers, he caught eight balls for 86 yards and a touchdown in Week 5. Vereen should be a solid PPR start in Week 6, but he's not a consistent part of the passing game on a weekly basis. With Odell Beckham banged up, it sounds as if the Giants are preparing to use Vereen and Jennings at receiver.
The New York Giants brought in free agent running back Shane Vereen this offseason to fill a role. They wanted Vereen to add an element to the offense as a receiver out of the backfield on passing downs and in no-huddle situations. Through the Giants' first two games, Vereen has been the most explosive option on offense outside of Odell Beckham Jr., and it might be time for him to inherit a larger offensive role.
Through the first two weeks, Vereen is second to only Beckham in receiving yards on the Giants. He has 12 receptions for 122 yards receiving, and he has also added 33 yards rushing on nine carries. Vereen leads the Giants' running backs with 64 offensive snaps, but he has seen less than half of the offense's total snaps so far.
In the passing game, Vereen has been even more dynamic than the total receiving yards show. On his 12 receptions, he has forced a missed tackle by the defender six times. Several of Vereen's receptions have turned into first downs.
Having Vereen on the field instead of Rashad Jennings or Andre Williams gives the offense more options, the story said. The defense has to respect the run and the short pass out of the backfield. Also, the Giants can opt to go into their no-huddle offense at any moment and feel much more comfortable with Vereen back there. Vereen likely can't handle a bell cow workload, but getting a few more carries or snaps would certainly increase his fantasy value.
Brandon Bolden has previously filled the role of starting running back, but never consistently. He has registered only three career games of 10+ carries.
This past year, Bolden never carried more than five times in a game; in Week 16 against the Jets, when LeGarrette Blount was injured, Bolden carried five times, Jonas Gray carried six times and Shane Vereen carried six times.
We could see a similar distribution between Bolden, James White and Dion Lewis Thursday (although the overall number of attempts might be slightly higher, because the Jets dominated time of possession in that Week 16 game).
Pittsburgh ranked 6th in rush defense and 27th in pass defense a year ago, so the Pats -- also thin at wide receiver with Brandon LaFell on PUP and Reggie Wayne cut -- could feature lots of Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler. If Travaris Cadet is available, he could figure into the passing game, too. This may not be a 25-carry game on the ground.
The position that must sort it self out is the pass-catching, change-of-pace back. Whoever it is should have a fairly significant role in the offense. Right now, the first choice has to be Lewis, who displayed terrific change-of-direction and underrated power when given the opportunity in the preseason. Lewis can pass protect and has enough punch to run between the tackles.
The good news is once Blount returns Week 2, if healthy, the story said he should lead the team in attempts, yards and TDs for the season. In terms of pass catching, White has proved slippery in the open field, as well as Lewis. And Cadet hasn't proven anything as a member of the Patriots, which should be an indication of how much the team likes him. They kept him around despite not seeing him at all in the preseason due to a hamstring injury, the story went on to say. After what should be a committee approach Week 1, signs continue to point to Blount as the main back, but there remains three pass-catching options which could cause headaches for fantasy owners.
Through the first drive of the third quarter, Dion Lewis played 23 offensive snaps as he made his case to be considered the top option to replace Shane Vereen as the team's top "passing back." His combination of blitz pickup, pass-catching ability, knack for picking up yardage after the catch, and determination in the red zone (11-yard touchdown run) was impressive.
Up to that point in the game, Lewis' primary competition for the job, James White, had played three snaps. All three of those snaps came out of the "pony" grouping in which he was on the field at the same time as Lewis.
"I thought Dion did a good job with his opportunities," coach Bill Belichick said in his day-after-game conference call. "He's had a solid spring and camp for us. He missed a few days there [because of injury], but I thought he ran well [Saturday] night."
As it turned out, White did too, the story said. Essentially taking over for Lewis from the second drive of the third quarter until the end of the game (the two were on the field together six snaps after that point), it was almost as if White felt the urgency to match Lewis.
That was what stood out most to me when reviewing the offensive snap counts from the game; how the competition between the two has raised the bar at a critical position in the Patriots' offense. White was drafted by the team for this role so he may have the edge because of that. Whoever wins the job should get a Shane Vereen-like role in the offense which would have PPR league value.
It wasn’t only that RB Andre Williams did not possess the best hands, it was that he seemed to lose track of the football and displayed poor depth perception when asked to come out of the backfield to catch a pass.
The Giants are working on this with Williams, their muscular second-year running back and leading rusher from 2014. Williams figures to do the heavy lifting this season, with Rashad Jennings doing a little bit of everything and newly signed Shane Vereen used mostly as a pass-catcher and safety-valve option for Eli Manning after excelling in that role for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Williams’ primary role will not be as a pass-catcher, but if he is not somewhat of a threat, opposing defense do not have to play him honestly. So Williams has made several changes to make himself more proficient.
In mid-March, he underwent Photorefractive Keratectomy laser eye surgery and now no longer needs contact lenses.
“I don’t have to worry about the strain from the lenses, and I also don’t have to worry about getting knocked in the eye and having my contact get loose or fall out,’’ Williams said. “If your contacts are cloudy or something, it’s a problem.
“It’s cool to wake up in the morning and see right away and not go to bed with the ‘I forgot to take my contacts out and my eyes hurt.’ It’s nice. Best money I ever spent so far.’’
Williams also has been working on his hand-eye coordination by catching tennis balls. Before games, Williams takes part in a blind-ball drill. With his back to running backs coach Craig Johnson, Williams has to turn and quickly locate the ball in the air as Johnson flips it to him. Like the story said, Jennings and Vereen are likely to see a bulk of the passes at the RB position, but Williams will only help himself if he can at least make defense aware. His main role looks like a change of pace back who could see short yardage and goal line situations.
Patriots RB James White — who took a helmet to the thigh in the second quarter but returned in the second half — looked shifty and sure-handed out of the backfield. Whether he was catching dump-off passes in the flat or screens, White always seemed to make the first guy miss in picking up extra yards after the catch.
In a season where the Patriots need to find an adequate replacement for Shane Vereen as a third-down back who can both catch out of the backfield and pick up the blitz, White appeared, at least for one night, a suitable replacement.
“It was a great feeling,” White said. “Good to be out there with my teammates (and) get a chance to go out there and compete against another team. I just want to go out there and make plays and make no mental errors.”
Rashad Jennings took the initial running back reps with the first-team offense. That's not a surprise considering he was listed atop the depth chart and is likely to the team's top ball carrier as long as he's healthy.
But it doesn't mean he'll receive the most playing time. The more versatile Shane Vereen logged the most snaps during Tuesday's practice. It's been that way most of the summer.
Jennings did look good. On one play during 11-on-11 drills, he burst through the hole from around the 20-yard line (showing good explosion) and cut outside at the second level for what might have been a touchdown.
The article said that Vereen out-snapped Jennings 13-to-9, with Andre Williams checking in with three first team snaps. We rank Vereen significantly ahead of Jennings in PPR formats, but Jennings is slightly ahead of Vereen in our standard rankings. It appears that Vereen's role will go beyond what's typical for a third-down back.
Strictly judging by appearances, veteran Brandon Bolden is currently the leader in the clubhouse for Shane Vereen’s third down back role. He’s moved ahead of second-year back James White and everyone else.
Bolden has been the main man for Tom Brady as the pass catching/blocking back during the past three practices.
He was the primary guy during Friday's session. But one practice doesn’t mean much. It could be a rotation type deal. But then, he was the lead again Saturday. So we've started a trend. Three days? Can't be a coincidence. We’re onto something.
“Any work is great out here,” Bolden said today, when asked about his added reps.
Bolden has been a guy who can fill in at any RB role, but never seemed to be a permanent fixture either. It's a bit surprising because many thought the team drafted White last year to be that guy this year. The story said White has fallen even since the pads came out, however. Travaris Cadet, who filled in as a third down back as a Saint last year, got hurt Saturday and the story said he also seemed like he was going to pass White. While there's a way to go yet, the story also mentioned Brady's trust in Bolden, which could be a factor in the winner of this job. It's certainly something to continue to monitor.
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