With news hitting today that Patriots running back Shane Vereen will be “out a few weeks” with a broken wrist, the Patriots are losing one of their most valuable and versatile offensive weapons.
Here are a few thoughts on the impact of the news:
Tough break for Vereen. This is a tough blow not only for the Patriots, but for Shane Vereen. Heading into the season, most around the league looked at him as a change of pace / passing down back. Against the Bills however, following Stevan Ridley’s benching, Vereen showcased the potential to be a 3-down back. It looked as if he were going to get the majority of the reps at the position going forward, and this is a tough break.
3rd down running back a question mark. Since Kevin Faulk arrived on the scene well over a decade ago, the “3rd down back” has been a staple of the Patriots offense. For the last three years, it was Danny Woodhead in that role. With Woodhead now in San Diego, Vereen was expected to take over those duties in 2013. Now, the Patriots are without a go-to option on 3rd down. Veteran Leon Washington would be the most likely candidate to take over that role, and it puts his recent re-signing into greater focus.
Patriots must find mismatches elsewhere. Vereen is the type of player that instantly makes the Patriots offense more versatile. He can catch the ball out of the backfield or out-wide, which means that he often can get matched up with a linebacker. In many ways, he was expected to take over Aaron Hernandez’ role as the “flex” option on the offense. Now, the Patriots will have to turn elsewhere to help create mismatches.
Another chance for Ridley. By process of elimination, Stevan Ridley will likely get another chance to carry the load of the Patriots’ ground attack. And because of this, there will be an even higher level of scrutiny on his ball control. For Ridley, this is an important chance to prove himself.