The Patriots spent a second-round draft pick on running back Shane Vereen last year and didn’t get much return on their investment, as Vereen gained just 57 yards during the regular season and never got on the field in the postseason.
But with last year’s leading rusher, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, now in Cincinnati, the Patriots are hoping Vereen can take a big step forward in his second season.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots still have high hopes for Vereen, high enough that he still has a good chance of earning the No. 1 spot on the running back depth chart, ahead of last year’s second and third running backs, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead.
Thanks in part to a hamstring injury, Vereen was of little use in New England in 2011. But it’s easy to see what the Patriots liked about him in last year’s draft. In his only season as a starter at Cal, in 2010, he carried 231 times for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he was a sprinter on Cal’s track team who has impressive speed. Vereen may be ready to do for the Patriots this year what Green-Ellis did for them last year.