New England Patriots: Shane Vereen May Be Lost Cause Again in 2nd Season

Kyle CormierContributor IIISeptember 11, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20:  Ryan Mallett #15 of the New England Patriots hands the ball to  Shane Vereen #34 against the Philadelphia Eagles during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August  20, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Patriots running back Shane Vereen flashed a lot of potential in the team's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, ripping off 64 yards on just 11 carries. That was his high point. Since then it has been downhill for Vereen.

The following week when the Philadelphia Eagles rolled into Foxboro, Vereen was utilized as the offense's top back for the night. With that opportunity, Vereen did very little, managing just 20 yards on 10 carries.

In the Patriots' third preseason game in Tampa, which is the closest thing to a relevant preseason game, Vereen saw limited action due to a left foot injury suffered that night. In his small amount of snaps he managed very limited production. On the night Vereen was held to negative three yards on his two rushes.

Vereen was irrelevant in his rookie season out of Cal after spending much time throughout training camp and the regular season slowed by a hamstring injury.

With the foot injury he is dealing with now being bad enough that the Boston Herald wondered whether he could have been a candidate for the team's one short-term injured reserve spot, which has since been used on tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, it seems the former second-round pick could perhaps be on the sidelines more than in uniform once again this season.

Making things worse for Vereen is the emergence of fellow second-year man Stevan Ridley this past weekend. Ridley seems to have cemented himself as the team's clear top choice in the backfield, and Vereen once again being hobbled, the chances for him to be an impact player on this year's offense seem to be dwindling.

His one chance to carve out a key role may come as the team's third-down back if veteran Danny Woodhead continues to produce at an underwhelming level, which he has been trending with ever since his breakout year in 2010. Woodhead had six totes for 20 yards Sunday against the Titans. Vereen may bring more explosiveness to the field on those third-down snaps than Woodhead.

If he does not get healthy and grab a niche soon, he just may become the next of Bill Belichick's second-round picks in recent years that just has not quite worked out for one reason or another.