Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shane Vereen focusing on injury-free third year


Third-year running back Shane Vereen's chance at a significant role in the offense this season is looking better and better by the day.

Now he just has to stay healthy.

As New England's second round pick in  2011, Vereen has yet to see much time on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, he was involved in 19 percent of the team's overall offensive snaps last season and only 26 total snaps his rookie season.

Some of that absence has been due in part to various injuries, and the former California product talked with the media Tuesday about his fight to stay on the field and a part of the game plan in 2013.

"Injuries are never good — it’s always frustrating,” Vereen said, via Christopher Price of WEEI.com. "You want to be out there as much as possible, so when I’m not, it’s disheartening. But I’m out there now, and I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible.

"There's a little more focus on my part. There has to be. [I need to] just be more consistent. More reliable. That comes with practice and that comes with time, so hopefully we'll get there." 

If Vereen can accomplish his goal, there's a role in the team's offense with his name on it. There's seven running backs currently on the Pats roster, but Vereen best fits the mold to fill the void left by utility man Danny Woodhead. He showed flashes of brilliance last season, averaging nearly 19 yards a clip on his eight catches and nearly five yards a carry on his 62 touches. 

Vereen is slated to make just north of $500K this season, which would be a steal for New England if Vereen can put up the numbers. If his inconsistencies continue, however, his rising salary may be enough for New England to ship him out and roll the dice elsewhere.  

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