FOXBORO -- Running back Shane Vereen got his most reps of the season out of the backfield on Sunday against the New York Jets.
In a conference call on Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Vereen for being prepared for the opportunity that came his way over the weekend. He called for all of his players to be ready for that opportunity, like Vereen was.
But on Tuesday, Belichick opened up even more about Vereen's value to the Patriots, saying that the second-year running back is capable of making his own opportunity, and that he hopes Vereen does just that.
"Shane's a smart kid," said Belichick. "I think he has a good understanding of the game, the running game, the passing game, pass protection, space plays. Where to be, how to get open and find space, that kind of thing. He's an elusive guy, he's got good balance. He's got good playing strength for his size. He's not the biggest guy, but he's got good playing strength.
"So he gives us some versatility there, and I think he's able to run inside, run in some traffic, but he's a good space player on the edge and in the passing game, that kind of thing. He's really got good value for us."
Vereen had eight carries for 49 total yards on Sunday. Prior to that, he had only two carries for one total yard all season. The absence of Brandon Bolden (knee) on Sunday was one reason that Vereen saw more reps against the Jets. But as Belichick pointed out on Tuesday, Vereen's health has played into that more than anything.
Belichick believes that Vereen has plenty of value to this year's Patriots team. And at the end of the day, his reps will increase as he stays healthy, not as others get injured.
"I don't hope anything happens to anybody else, but hopefully he'll get more opportunities, because I think he can contribute for us," said Belichick. "More of it is, Shane being healthy and Shane being ready to go, than waiting for something to happen to somebody else. It's more a case of him really being able to go out there and being the player that he is.
"He had a good training camp, and then he kind of got set back there at the end of camp, beginning of the season . . . I do think he can be productive, regardless of who else is out there. He's a good player in his own right, without waiting for somebody else to get injured or whatever."