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Patriots Running Back Shane Vereen Absent From Practice

If there is one non-Tom Brady player the Patriots can't go without on Sunday, it's running back Shane Vereen. He wasn't seen at practice.

Jim Rogash

The Patriots were without running back Shane Vereen on Friday's practice, the lone unexpected absentee (defensive end Chandler Jones was also not available). This isn't good.

While it makes to remain calm until the injury report comes out this afternoon, any time a player misses a Friday practice does not bode well for their use in the game plan. Bill Belichick rarely plays those who have missed the last practice of the week. Unless Vereen has a personal and approved reason for leaving, then it's likely his role in the offense will be scaled back.

So does this mean that Jonas Gray might get a bigger chance? Brandon Bolden? James White? Who knows, but the Patriots like to have a running back on the field for the majority of snaps so missing their most versatile running back definitely hurts the Patriots offense.

There's an off-chance that the current state of the Bears will allow the Patriots to be fine without Vereen; their defense is one of the lowest ranked in the league and they could be missing their top two cornerbacks (Charles Tillman and rookie Kyle Fuller) and top linebacker (Lance Briggs) due to injuries. Starting safety Chris Conte looks to return to action, but has been hobbled with nagging shoulder injury. Perhaps the Patriots take this week to break out a high flying passing attack.

Vereen's availability will be a point to watch moving forward. Stay tuned.