Patriots running back Shane Vereen stepping up in absence of Hernandez and Gronkowski
They responded by using running back Shane Vereen, an adaptive player who was picked two years ago to boost their passing game and to add more speed.
Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said that the lack of tight ends in the Patriots forced them to make use of the running back in the same manner, although they might have different plans to use him.
“Since they don’t have as many tight ends as they have had in the past, they kind of use the running back in the same fashion, [though] not necessarily the same routes,” he said. “He’s just another weapon for them.”
Pees said that Vereen was an exceptional player whose use other than being a tight end was an asset against most teams.
“He’s such a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. It’s kind of like last week with Detroit when you had [running back Reggie] Bush,” Pees said. “The guy is a very good runner but they put him out in an empty formation and get a linebacker matched up on him -- that’s a bad deal.”
For this season, Vereen has made a total of 40 rushing attempts and on average scored five yards for every carry he made. He is also utilized as a receiver so the Ravens players are all too familiar with that as Sproles and Bush did the same thing. Defensive end Chris Canty said that his versatility was a danger to any team.
“They like to move them around, get them out in space. They will give him the ball in the backfield but they like to throw it to him a lot. He’s a very versatile player,” he said. “He’s a burner. He’s got real speed out there so we have to be aware of where he is at all times.”