Vereen Appears to Be at Bottom of Pecking Order for New England Patriots

Kyle CormierContributor IIIAugust 10, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 21:  Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots beat the defense of Jovan Belcher #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs for a touchdown in the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Despite having a very productive night last night against the New Orleans Saints, Shane Vereen's stock may have taken a slight dive. Although Vereen was very effective in his opportunities Thursday night, Bill Belichick and the coaching staff did not play him until the second half.

Stevan Ridley was rightfully the starting back to no one's surprise. What immediately caught my eye though was that Danny Woodhead remained in his role as the third-down back. Vereen still brings a more dynamic skill set to the field than Woodhead as the team's back in spread formations, but after one preseason game it appears Woodhead still may have the job to lose.

Even rookie Brandon Bolden saw the field before Vereen. It could be that the team wants to use some time this preseason to see what they have with Bolden, feeling more confident they already know what Vereen can give them. One would think the team would want to give Vereen significant snaps though considering he was a non-factor essentially his entire rookie campaign.

Vereen did put the Patriot offense on his back during the team's lone scoring drive in the third quarter Thursday night. Vereen had eight touches on the 97-yard drive that was capped with a Brian Hoyer touchdown pass to first-year receiver Britt Davis, who later left with a shoulder injury.

Unfortunately, Vereen's production came against players who will mostly be free agents when the regular season comes around, so no one should make too much of his numbers. It is a good sign at least that he looked like he was in a class above those backups on most of his touches as he rushed for 64 yards on 11 carries, while adding two receptions for 17 yards.

Vereen should get a chance early on with the first-team offense in at least one of the preseason games. The Patriots did not draft him in the second round a year ago to watch his career stall out without giving him a chance to jumpstart it.