FOXBORO – Dave Meggett begot Kevin Faulk who – after many years – begot Danny Woodhead who begot Shane Vereen.
Shane Vereen, as it turned out, be gone for many games at the start of the 2013 season. And the Patriots wept.
But Monday night in Carolina, the prodigal third-down back returned to the Patriots offense. And he was good.
The explosiveness of Vereen comes in bursts, but if the third-year back from Cal can stay healthy, he is the X-factor on the Patriots offense.
In the past calendar year, Vereen’s carried 66 times for 349 yards (5.3 yards per carry). He’s caught 26 balls for 334 yards, an average of 12.8 yards per catch.
That’s 683 yards from scrimmage on 92 touches.
The catch to those numbers (and they include two playoff games) is that Vereen’s played in 11 of the 20 games the Patriots played in the same stretch.
If Vereen can become a fixture in the Patriots offense, Tom Brady knows what he’ll be getting.
“He has really emerged and developed into that role [as the receiving back],” Brady explained Wednesday. “He got to learn from Kevin [Faulk] for a little bit and you know Danny Woodhead was here to help last year, but he has really taken it on this year.”
As important as the slot receiver has always been in the Patriots offense and the tight end became in 2010, the ability to have a multi-purpose back is what really develops matchup headaches. And that’s what the Patriots is always seeking – matchup advantages. That’s why losing Aaron Hernandez – the Patriots best matchup headache from 2010 through 2012 – and having Vereen go down was such a devastating blow to the offense.
Brady said Vereen embraces the position.
“The best part is he really understands the importance and magnitude of that role and takes a lot of pride in it,” Brady explained. “It’s a hugely important part of our offense, and for a guy that it means so much to, I mean you’ve seen what he’s capable of in the first week of the year and last week. He gets single coverage, he gets out.
“It’s a difficult position because there’s blocking, you have to run the ball, you’ve got to get your blitz pickup, you’ve got to get out into the route, you’ve got to get open, you’ve got to catch the ball, and you’ve got to do something with it,” Brady explained. “He can do all those things, so he is a very, very good football player.”
Brady stressed on Wednesday the need to score and keep up with the Broncos this weekend.
It’s going to be a chore. Still, the presence of Vereen will make it a little easier to manage.