FOXBORO -- Shane Vereen was spotted in the Patriots locker room with no hard cast on his injured wrist Thursday. Last Thursday, Vereen was seen working out on Gillette Stadium's practice fields with his hand/wrist heavily wrapped.
Vereen was placed on short-term injured reserve after suffering a broken bone in his wrist during New England's Week 1 win over the Bills. That designation makes him eligible to return to practice in Week 8 before the Patriots play the Dolphins. Vereen isn't eligible to play in a game until Week 10, but since that is the Patriots bye week, he won't make his return to New England's offense until Week 11 against the Panthers.
Vereen was injured on his first play from scrimmage against the Bills, but he still ended up with 159 yards from scrimmage, including 101 yards rushing.
There has been no clear-cut replacement for Vereen in the Patriots offense, though Brandon Bolden has at times been thrust into a similar third-down-back type of role that Vereen once occupied.
Bolden, like Vereen, has lined up in the backfield and out wide. In four games, Bolden has 111 yards rushing on 19 attempts as well as 14 receptions for 93 yards. Bolden also has three drops on the season.
Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount have shared the workload as New England's first and second-down backs, and both have shown an ability to pick up significant yards after contact -- a stat that coach Bill Belichick has referenced in the past as one of the most important for running backs.
Last week against the Saints, Stevan Ridley looked to have re-claimed his role as the team's top runner, taking 20 of the team's 35 carries and gaining 60 of his 96 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Patriots are currently ninth in the NFL with 29.2 rushing attempts per game, and eleventh in the league with 120.5 rushing yards per game.