Monday Patriots Notes: Shane Vereen, Marcus Cannon, Alfonzo Dennard

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After being selected No. 56 overall in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Patriots running back Shane Vereen saw very limited action in his rookie season with the team.

Last season, Vereen played in five games, rushing 15 times for 57 yards and a single touchdown. He also saw some action as a kick returner. Part of the reason for Vereen's limited numbers, is the Patriots "rushing by committee" approach.

Because of all of the other options on the roster, such as fellow rookie Steven Ridley and veterans BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, Vereen didn't get too many chances to shine. However when he did play, Vereen impressed the coaches in his development, and has earned a larger role during team OTAs.

According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Vereen received the most reps on the first team offense at running back. He, along with Ridley and free agent acquisition Joseph Addai were among those who worked with the first team. While it is surprising and encouraging to see Vereen getting so many reps, Howe wonders what it all means.

The big thing that jumped out was Vereen served as the top back during practice. The unknown is whether or not it means anything, particularly since I have no idea who took on that role during their first two sessions. It's just like preseason carries in that regard, as Bill Belichick will designate certain times for certain players to have their time with the first-team offense. But again, Vereen is high on my list of players to watch during the offseason, since it was difficult to make any lasting impressions last year.

CANNON'S SHOWS KIND GESTURE TO VETERAN

During this Memorial Day weekend, it's important to reach out to any war veteran you know, and thank them for the service that they did to our country. In his own unique way, Patriots offensive lineman Marcus Cannon did just that.

Cannon had a crossbow on sale on Craigslist. The buyer of his crossbow was disabled war veteran Robert Rodriguez, who sustained serious head and shoulder injuries while serving in Iraq. Once he realized who was buying the crossbow, Cannon showed high class in handing it over to him.

Cannon personally delivered the crossbow to Rodriguez at his home in Taunton. He even gave it to the Purple Heart recipient free of charge as a thank you for his service.

Rodriguez has a deeper love for the Patriots and a new found love for his crossbow.

"Sometimes people don't understand what goes on over there. It's nice that people acknowledge that hey, we're behind, we're backing you, and we support everything you do, and it's nice to have something like that."

DENNARD LOOKING TO MAKE AMENDS; PERFORM WELL

New England rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard came into the NFL is somewhat of a liability.

Just a few days before the 2012 NFL Draft, Dennard was arrested in Nebraska for allegedly assaulting a cop after being involved in a night club brawl. Dennard was originally projected as a second-round talent, but slipped all the way to the seventh round. All because of his character concerns.

As a part of being picked by the Patriots, Dennard has been forbidden to speak with the media. His agent, Brian Murphy, says he's very impressed with how his client has handled all of the adversity he's faced.

"His reaction to the whole process was mind-boggling to me because he said, 'Things happen the way they're supposed to happen. And this is all happening for a reason and all I can do is prove everyone wrong and show that I'm a great cornerback, a great teammate and a great man,' and he wants to reward the Patriots for the faith they showed," said Murphy. "I wouldn't describe him as down and out."

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