Branch on Vereen's performance: 'I wasn't impressed'

Branch on Vereen's performance: 'I wasn't impressed'
January 18, 2013, 9:01 pm
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FOXBORO -- Shane Vereen scored three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in Sunday's Divisional Round.

But that didn't impress some Patriots.

No offense to Vereen. Because it isn't a knock. It's actually a compliment. The Patriots -- offensive players at least -- already knew what Vereen was capable of doing on the field.

They knew he just needed an opportunity in a game to be able to show it.

"This may sound crazy, but I wasn't impressed," said veteran wide receiver Deion Branch after Friday's practice. "This guy, we see this every day out on the practice field. It's just all about the opportunity that guys get. Not only him. Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, give them the opportunity and we know that these guys can do it . . . But I've seen Vereen do those things at practice every day."

Vereen saw time lining up as a wide receiver against the Texans on Sunday. And he was targeted six times in the air, making five receptions for 83 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Still, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't willing to give up any secrets as to how much playing time Vereen would get in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Its hard to have all of them in there at once but whichever ones have been in there, theyve all done a good job and performed well," said Belichick about his running backs. "At times we go into a game with different packages or different groups of personnel. Sometimes it depends on how the game goes as to which group winds up being in there more or how it goes. So . . . I dont know, he might have a big role. Im not sure what anybodys role will be. Well have to see how it goes. One thing about Shane is he works hard, hes smart, hes well prepared and when weve called on him, hes come through for us. Im sure hell do the best he can to put himself in that position again this week."