With two solid pass-catching running backs in Shane Vereen and fourth-round draft choice James White, one consideration for the Patriots is putting them on the field together. We know this much: The two-running back package is part of the team’s deep playbook as evidenced by one play in last year’s AFC divisional round playoff win over the Colts. It was the only time all season the Patriots used the two-RB grouping – with Vereen and Brandon Bolden – and it produced a 25-yard catch-and-run reception over the middle by receiver Julian Edelman. The Patriots like to manipulate matchups with various personnel groupings and that play against the Colts provided a snapshot of how a two-RB package (with 2 WRs and 1 TE) can put stress on a defense. The Colts matched in their 4-3 base, the Patriots sent both RBs into pass routes (Bolden to the left flat, Vereen up the right sideline), and there seemed to be just enough confusion between the linebackers and defensive backs on how to handle it that it opened things up for Edelman underneath.
Vereen, by the way, made one of the best plays in Thursday’s organized activity by beating linebacker Jerod Mayo down the sideline for a big gain in the passing game. When a running back draws a one-on-one matchup with a linebacker, that’s usually something Brady will take every time. Backs on 'backers – we wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes a bigger part of the Patriots’ attack this year because of the solid pass-catching combination of Vereen and White.
Vereen figures to be a productive back, especially in PPR formats. It will be interesting to see just how many snaps the rookie White plays compared to Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden. Anything can happen with the Patriots.