It Is What It Is
NEED TO KNOW
Follow WEEI.com football writer Christopher Price at twitter.com/cpriceNFL. In addition, get the latest WEEI.com updates at twitter.com/WEEI.
A WEEI.com Patriots Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network
Posts related to ‘Shane Vereen’
Shane Vereen backing old teammate Tom Brady: ‘He’ll do well’ 09.04.15 at 12:13 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Shane Vereen backing old teammate Tom Brady: ‘He’ll do well’
Shane Vereen is now with the Giants, but he still has a soft spot for Tom Brady. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Shane Vereen is now with the Giants, but he still has a soft spot for Tom Brady. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Count ex-teammate Shane Vereen as someone who is in Tom Brady‘s corner.

The former New England running back made his return to Gillette Stadium Thursday night for the first time since he signed a free-agent deal in the offseason with the Giants. And even thought he’s now a part of Big Blue, the 26-year-old still has a place in his heart for his old quarterback.

“He’s one of the few cats, (one of the) few guys in this league that will keep taking his backlashes but still get better and still work harder,” Vereen told WHDH-TV after the game, a 12-9 win for the Giants in the preseason finale for both teams. “(There are a) lot of guys in this league that would love to be like him as a competitor and as a great quarterback, I’m sure he’ll do well.”

Vereen, who ended up with just one carry on the night, said it was a “little surreal” to be back in Foxboro. The Cal product spent four seasons in New England before signing with the Giants a month after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX.

“It was fun — a little surreal for a while,” he said of Thursday’s action. “I had to snap out of it. It was fun being back and seeing everybody and being welcomed back with open arms.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Read More: Shane Vereen, Tom Brady,
How Troy Brown gave Bill Belichick some valuable perspective on cutdown process 08.31.15 at 12:44 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on How Troy Brown gave Bill Belichick some valuable perspective on cutdown process
Troy Brown has always had the ear of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.   (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Troy Brown has always had the ear of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Turns out, Bill Belichick does listen to the media, at least when one of those media members is a respected former player.

Troy Brown certainly fits in that category. On Monday, Belichick shared an experience he had recently when he heard Troy Brown speak about the NFL cutdown process from a player’s perspective.

“I think Troy Brown made a comment a couple of weeks ago when he said, ‘I knew that when I came into the league, I knew that it was a long shot for me to make a team. I was probably going to get cut and all that. I felt like my job every day was to make it as hard as possible for Coach Parcells to make that decision. I wanted to make his job tough for him to cut me,'” Belichick said.

Belichick said he and his staff are in a tough spot for a very good reason. Many of his players in different groups have battled hard to make the decision on whether to cut or keep a player very challenging. In two particular groups, wide receiver and running back, especially the third-down back spot, it’s going to be razor-thin.

“It’s definitely made it hard. We’ve have a lot of guys do that,” Belichick said.

“I’d say there have been a number of guys that have done that this year in preseason. They’ve kind of taken that phrase that Troy used and really have done that. They’ve forced us to make some hard decisions because of how competitively they’ve played and vice versa. Guys at a spot where there’s a lot of competition, instead of one or two guys rising and one or two guys fading out, in some cases several members of that group have all competitively risen the level of their game to make some very tough decisions.”

The wide receiver spot includes new names like Chris Harper and Jonathan Krause, both of whom have shown glimpses of being impact players to give depth behind the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Reggie Wayne and Brandon LaFell. As for the running back group, it’s very, very competitive, with players like James White, Dion Lewis, Travaris Cadet and Tony Creecy all vying for valuable game reps as a third-down back to replace Shane Vereen.

“I would put the running back position in that,” Belichick said. “We’ve pretty much had the same group. We added Tony [Creecy]. We’ve pretty much had that same group when we lost [Tyler] Gaffney but we pretty much have the same group of guys since the beginning of the spring, with no rookies in that group other than Tony coming in a couple of weeks ago. Those guys have all competed well. They’ve all improved. They’ve all pushed each other. They’ve all worked really and they’ve all been productive. It’s a good example of that. They’re making it hard on us.”

DraftKings Kick off this football season with the biggest fantasy football contest ever on DraftKings! Prizes worth $10 million are up for grabs, including $2 million for first AND $1 million for second! PLAY IN THE WEEK 1 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, CLICK HERE.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Dion Lewis, James White
Checking in with some old Patriots at their new addresses 08.03.15 at 11:41 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Checking in with some old Patriots at their new addresses
Darrelle Revis left the Patriots for the Jets. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis left the Patriots for the Jets. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

With the Patriots taking a day off from camp, that presents us with an opportunity to check in with eight of the players who were on the roster last year who have since moved on to new teams.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis: The Jets cornerback hasn’t taken any passive-aggressive shots at his old employer over the last few days. Instead, he’s been working with the rest of the rebuilt New York secondary over the course of the first few days of camp in Florham Park. The Jets’ Twitter feed provided some cool-looking Vines of some of the one-on-one drills between Revis and wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Cornerback Brandon Browner: Browner, who turned 31 on Sunday, left the Patriots on good terms as a free agent over the offseason (he posted his championship ring and the nice note from Robert Kraft on Instagram last month), but the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder did reveal an intriguing nugget over the weekend: He told reporters that when the Patriots “asked me to take a pay cut, you know, it was time to get up out of there.” He projects as one of the two lead corners in the New Orleans defense for 2015.

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: The longtime Patriot signed with the Texans in the offseason and figures to be one of the foundational elements of Houston’s defensive line. Wilfork revealed this week that his daughter Destiny agreed to allow her father to sign with the Texans was if she could meet J.J. Watt. Mission accomplished.

Running back Shane Vereen: While there was plenty of talk initially about potentially utilizing Vereen in more than just a third-down role, it appears now that he’s starting to settle in as the Giants‘ third-down option out of the backfield. Vereen said this week there are a number of similarities between the offense he was a part of in New England and what’s getting used to in New York.

Running back Stevan Ridley: The former Patriots back was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of Jets training camp. Ridley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last October against the Bills, has expressed optimism that he can get back on the field sooner rather than later, but at the same time, he said in June he does not want to create “false hope” regarding his health. Ultimately, the goal is to be back on the field for Week 1 of the regular season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Akeem Ayers, Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Jonathan Casillas
Countdown to camp: Running backs 07.26.15 at 5:44 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Countdown to camp: Running backs
LeGarrette Blount heads into 2015 as the Patriots lead back. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount heads into 2015 as the Patriots lead back. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the wide receivers and moved on to the tight ends, offensive line and quarterback. Now it’s the running backs:

Depth chart (regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): LeGarrette Blount (125 carries, 547 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 5 TDs with both Pittsburgh and New England), Brandon Bolden (28 carries, 89 yards, 3.2 yards per carry, 1 TD), Travaris Cadet (10 carries, 32 yards, 3.2 yards per carry; 38 catches, 296 yards, 1 TD with New Orleans), Tyler Gaffney (no stats in 2014), Jonas Gray (89 carries, 412 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 5 TDs), Dion Lewis (no stats in 2014), James White (9 carries, 38 yards, 4.2 yards per carry), James Develin (fullback — 3 carries, 5 yards, 1.7 yards per carry).

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. When it comes to the Patriots backfield, plug and play is still the rule. Despite the fact that they accounted for a sizable portion of the running game last year, New England let Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley walk in free agency. (The two combined for 42 percent of the rushing yards and 43 percent of the carries from 2014.) The idea of fungible running backs is nothing new around New England; over the last 10 seasons, six different backs (Gray, Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and Corey Dillon) have led the Patriots in rushing yards — in that span, only the Cardinals, Browns and Saints have had more different backs lead their team in rushing than New England. The return of Blount (despite the fact that he’ll now miss the opener) would seem to guarantee that it will be seven in 11 seasons. However, if seniority in the system is any indication, it’s worth noting that after the departure of Vereen and Ridley, the senior member of the New England backfield — in terms of time in the system — is 25-year-old Brandon Bolden, who has played a grand total of 38 regular-season games with the Patriots. We’ve mentioned this before, but the only thing that’s constant about the state of the New England running game is change.

2. The Patriots will rotate their backs. In 2014, the Patriots became the first Super Bowl winner since the 1987 Redskins to have four different running backs finish with 40 carries or more in their championship season. (That was because of a combination of injury, scheme and personnel.) Things won’t be that dramatic in 2015, but history certainly suggests that New England will again go with what will best be described as a running back-by-committee. While Blount is going to be the closest thing the team has to a lead back, expect Jonas Gray to also get some reps when it comes to working between the tackles, in addition to special teams ace Brandon Bolden. Meanwhile, Cadet and White will get run as candidates to fill the third down job. Meanwhile, Gaffney and Lewis remain wild cards when it comes to predicting their potential production in 2015.

3. For a fullback, James Develin will get plenty of reps. While he will never pile up the gaudy numbers, the former Ivy Leaguer has carved out a nice niche for himself as a member of the New England offense, as the Patriots have become one of the few teams around the league that has relied on a fullback as a key piece of the puzzle. According to Pro Football Focus, Develin was fifth in the league among fullbacks in total snaps with 259, and he graded out as one of the best in the league when it came to both pass and run blocking.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Bolden, Countdown to Camp, James White, Jonas Gray
5 looming positional battles for Patriots 06.08.15 at 9:59 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on 5 looming positional battles for Patriots
New Patriot Travaris Cadet could have the inside track for the job of third-down back. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

New Patriot Travaris Cadet could have the inside track for the job of third-down back. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The 2015 Patriots roster is starting to come into sharper focus, and as a result, there are some positional battles starting to take shape. With the understanding that there’s a lot of football left before the start of training camp at the end of July, here are four positions that bear watching as New England’s mandatory minicamp approaches later this month and camp begins in July.

Backup outside linebacker/defensive end: This spot demands some versatility in that defenders have to show an ability to not just get after the quarterback and set the edge, but also play over a tight end and drop into coverage from time to time. There are a bunch of different possibilities when it comes to working behind the likes of expected starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones that one of the candidates — Jake Bequette — has apparently spent some of the spring working at tight end in an attempt to get on the field. Opponent, situation and scheme will all play a sizable role as to who is on the field, and while free-agent pickup Jabaal Sheard probably shouldn’t necessarily be labeled as a backup, he will augment the work of Jones and Ninkovich. Sheard will lead a group that includes returnee Zach Moore (more of a defensive end/pass rush type than an outside linebacker, as well as rookies Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Xzavier Dickson.

Backup inside/middle linebacker: The release of Brandon Spikes on Monday creates a void at the linebacker spot for New England. While Spikes wasn’t going to unseat any of the three long-term starters (Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower) for work as a three-down linebacker, his run-stuffing ability made him a good situational option on first and second downs. With Hightower’s offseason shoulder surgery leaving him a question mark when it comes to participating over the summer, the Patriots could still try and add someone at the spot. If not, the return of Dane Fletcher creates some depth at the position, and is likely the favorite to see the bulk of the playing time, at least at this point. In addition, James Morris (who was on the shelf all last season with a leg injury) will compete for reps alongside youngster Chris White and rookie Matt Wells.

Third-down back: The Patriots lost one of their most impressive offensive options to free agency this offseason, as Shane Vereen signed with the Giants. However, New England hasn’t been shy about turnover at this spot the last few years, as Kevin Faulk have way to Danny Woodhead, who yielded to Vereen. Now, it’ll be next man up here, and there are plenty of possibilities. The Patriots acquired Travaris Cadet in free agency — the 26-year-old had 38 catches last season out of the backfield with the Saints, and could be the early favorite to win the gig. Cadet will have his challengers, however, with one of them likely being second-year pro James White. White, who fundamentally took a redshirt year last season while sitting behind Vereen and the rest of the backs, has an impressive college resume at Wisconsin (he had 39 catches as a senior, and 73 total as a collegian), and certainly possesses the same sort of size and shiftiness as Vereen. While Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount have shown a willingness to catch passes out of the backfield, the wild card here is likely Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 221-pounder who was swiped from the Panthers off waivers and spent the whole season on IR because of a knee issue. The Stanford product caught 27 passes his last two seasons at Stanford, and could be part of the conversation as the summer continues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cameron Fleming, chandler jones, Dan Connolly, Dane Fletcher
Shane Vereen: ‘I have the utmost respect for [Tom Brady] as a player and as a person’ 05.28.15 at 10:23 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Shane Vereen: ‘I have the utmost respect for [Tom Brady] as a player and as a person’

Another player is showing their support for Tom Brady.

Even though running back Shane Vereen is now a member of the Giants, the former Patriot is coming out in defense of his former quarterback. Vereen said he had no knowledge of the Patriots’ footballs being deflated.

“I had no awareness of anything that was going on,” Vereen said to the New York Daily News Wednesday. “€œI looked up to Tom. I still do. I think he’€™s a great player. I have the utmost respect for him as a player and as a person. I guess everything will sort itself out.”

Vereen said Brady was one of the first players to reach out to him after he signed with the Giants for three years and just over $12 million.

In regards to Deflategate, some have noted the Patriots’ fumble numbers as they are among the lowest in the league. Vereen said that is a byproduct of hard work in practice.

“We work very hard at our craft,” Vereen said. “We work very hard at holding onto the ball. We did ball drills every day, and I think that’€™s more a product of us and our hard work.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Shane Vereen,
Resetting Patriots depth chart: Running back 04.14.15 at 8:05 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Resetting Patriots depth chart: Running back
Jonas Gray could have a bigger workload in 2015. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jonas Gray could have a bigger workload in 2015. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We started with special teams, tight end and wide receiver. Now, it’s running back:

Current depth chart: LeGarrette Blount (60 carries, 281 yards, 3 TDs), Jonas Gray (89 carries, 412 yards, 5 TDs), Brandon Bolden (28 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD), Travaris Cadet, James White (9 carries, 38 yards), Dion Lewis, James Develin (3 carries, 5 yards), Tyler Gaffney (ended season on injured reserve).

Lost in free agency: Stevan Ridley (94 carries, 340 yards, 2 TDs) signed with the Jets, Shane Vereen (96 carries, 391 rushing yards, 2 TDs; 52 catches, 447 receiving yards, 3 TDs) signed with the Giants.

Gained in free agency: Cadet (10 carries, 32 yards; 31 catches, 51 targets, 296 yards, 1 TD for the Saints last year), Lewis (no stats last year with the Browns, but his best season came in 2011 with the Eagles when he had 23 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown).

Other changes: There’s been plenty of turnover at the position this offseason for New England, as the Patriots have lost 43 percent of their carries from 2014 with the departures of Ridley and Vereen. But that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to the Patriots and the running back position: over the last 10 years, six different backs have led New England in rushing yards. (In that span, only the Cardinals, Browns and Saints have had more different backs lead their team in rushing than the Patriots.) One other note as it relates to change in the New England backfield: Tyler Gaffney was swiped off waivers from the Panthers last summer and stashed on injured reserve because of a knee injury. The former Stanford product bears watching for a few reasons throughout the spring workouts for a few reasons, including the fact that the 6-foot-1, 221-pounder rushed for 1,709 yards on 330 carries as a senior in college in 2013. (He also had 27 catches out of the backfield in his final two years at Stanford.) Given those numbers, it’s reasonable to think that he’ll at least be a part of the conversation when it comes to the position this summer.

Is this an area of need going into the draft? Not on the surface, but there is some pre-draft talk that if one of the two backs considered to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field (Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley) are available at No. 32, the Patriots would be inclined to go after them at the end of the first round. It certainly would be out of character for New England, as Bill Belichick has taken a running back just once in the first round (Laurence Maroney, 2006). If they don’t go for a back at the end of the first round, look for them to pick up at least one somewhere along the way, even as a camp body or two via the undrafted/rookie free agent route to help fill out the roster.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dion Lewis, James White, Jonas Gray
Latest on Twitter
Draft Kings
Player News
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify