FOXBORO -- Shane Vereen's second touchdown in Friday's preseason game with the Eagles served as a reminder of the athletic ability pent up in his 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame.
When he caught Tom Brady's pass in the flat, his momentum sent him careening toward the sideline and almost out of bounds. Before he hit boundary, though, he planted his right foot inches from the white and launched himself toward the pylon, tapping it with the football in his outstretched arms.
The side judge assumed that Vereen had gone out of bounds, but after a review the call was reversed and Vereen was awarded the score to put the Patriots up, 20-0.
"I couldn’t tell if I had stepped out of bounds or not," Vereen said, "but I tried like hell to get in there.”
Vereen finished with five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns -- the other was a 40-yard catch-and-sprint where he made it into the end zone untouched -- proving once again that he's not only a reliable pass-catching option, but a dynamic weapon who can create yardage on his own.
"Yeah, he made some great plays tonight," Brady said. "He’s been that way -- he’s really had such a dependable role for us for the last few years and just done a great job. When the ball is in his hands, good things are happening for our team. We’re going to try to just keep getting him the ball."
Vereen has always had talent as a dual-threat back, and he broke out as a pass-catcher last season with 47 receptions in eight games. But what's kept him from having a consistent, unfettered emergence over the course of his first three years in the league has been injury.
Last season he appeared poised to claim a vital role in the Patriots offense when he had 101 yards rushing and seven catches for 58 yards against Buffalo in Week 1, but he suffered a wrist injury that forced him to miss more than two months.
Now he's hoping that the momentum he's built up this preseason is something that he can carry into the regular season and prolong.
"It's good," Vereen said of getting extended reps in New England's third preseason game. "It’s something that a lot of us needed and you want to feel like you can get into a rhythm and have a good experience in the game prior to the live bullets that will be here in a couple weeks. So it was a good feeling."