Shane Vereen isn’t going to sneak up on the Ravens.
Even though Vereen was lightly employed by the Patriots last week in Miami, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees has his group on alert.
“He is such a dynamic receiver out of the backfield,” Pees told Baltimore media this week. “It is a little bit like last week in Detroit when you had Bush.”
Pees was referring to Reggie Bush, the Lions versatile running back they held to two catches for 15 yards on Monday night. Bush did gain 86 yards on 17 carries.
Vereen had just three catches for 8 yards in Miami a week after receiving the post-Gronk runoff of the Patriots offense against the Browns (12 catches, 153 yards).
Electrifying as Bush can be, as a receiver, Vereen is superior at this point.
In 12 games, Bush has 47 catches for 463 yards. In six games, Vereen has 43 catches for 381 yards.
“The guy is a good runner. He is a very good runner. … but he is [also] just a really good receiver, very fast, and he has been a weapon.”
Said Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes, “Shane Vereen is definitely one of those guys that you can’t sleep on. He’s definitely a threat. He has 40 catches this year for a reason. He’s one of their top guys. They like to throw him because he has good hands, good speed and good feet.”
The Ravens got an eyeful of Vereen last January when they watched tape of the Patriots Divisional Playoff win over Houston. Vereen had five catches for 83 yards and two scores in that game. In the AFC Championship against the Ravens the following week, Vereen was held to two catches for 22 yards.
For the Patriots to open things up in the middle for Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, they need to force the Ravens to cover the width of the field and that means getting Vereen in the flat either out of the backfield or lined up wide. If he draws a lot of linebacker coverage, Vereen could be a key to the Patriots success.