Shane Vereen could be a factor for Patriots against Ravens
By By Adam Kurkjian
Jan 09, 2015 | 11:03 AM
From week-to-week, it can be hard to project just how big of an impact Shane Vereen will have on any given Patriots game.
One would think this would be a week where he could be quite useful.
As the Patriots prepare to face the Ravens in an AFC divisional round game Saturday at Gillette Stadium, the visitors come in with one of the premier run defenses in the league — allowing just 3.6 yards per carry, the third best mark in the league.
Given the fact that Vereen isn't the Patriots' primary option in the run game, his presence may be felt in another way. When Vereen wheels out of the backfield as a receiver, he always seems to find open space.
If the Ravens clog up the middle and LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray can't gain yards on the ground, look for swing passes out to Vereen to be even more of a weapon.
"When you're going up against a tough front with Baltimore, being able to establish some type of run game, being able to establish something on the ground is huge," Vereen said. "They're a good defense, a great defense, but their strongest point is the front and how disruptive they have been all season."
This season, it's been difficult to know where Vereen's impact lies.
In the running game, Vereen hasn't factored much into the equation. He had more than 10 carries in a game just twice this season, with 11 against Denver and the Jets (Oct. 16). His most productive game came against Cincinnati, when he rushed for 90 yards on nine carries.
But there were also games where he was used sparingly, including one carry against San Diego. For the season, he has 96 attempts for 391 yards (4.1 yards per rush) and two touchdowns.
However, Vereen's value catching the ball out of the backfield is well documented. Although his production there has slowed near the end of the season, he caught 52 passes for 447 yards (8.6 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
But for as good as the Ravens are defensively, Vereen feels he will be ready having faced his own defense in practice.
"Just practicing against our defense in general is good for our offense," he said. "You look around, we have studs all over the place and that's great for us. We get to work against a good defense each and every day that we go out to practice."
The Ravens will bring that type of defense to Gillette tomorrow. If the Patriots want to solve it, they may need Vereen to have more of an impact.