Shane Vereen playing some WR for Patriots

USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen could see significant time at wide receiver this season.

New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen played some wide receiver during the team's minicamp, according to the team's official website. New England's passing game should look much different this season, with the departure of Wes Welker in free agency and Aaron Hernandez being released due to his ongoing investigation.

Vereen hasn't lived up to expectations thus far as a running back. He managed just 251 yards with a per-carry average of 4.0 yards last season. Since drafting Vereen, the Patriots have fond their starter in Stevan Ridley, however, so Vereen will need to shine more as a general playmaker than a running back.

Then again, Vereen was always considered more of a playmaker than strictly a running back. He just hasn't had many opportunities to show what he can do, thanks to injury and a crowded arsenal of weapons for quarterback Tom Brady.

But Vereen flashed his potential in last season's playoff win over the Houston Texans. Vereen had three touchdowns, one of which came via reception. Vereen hauled in a 25-yard catch early in the game, and then managed a 33-yard touchdown over linebacker Barrett Ruud in the fourth quarter.

And that's where Vereen will excel: when he's mismatched. The Patriots want to get the linebacker on Vereen as often as possible, because more often than naught, Vereen will win that battle and provide a solid target for Brady. With the aforementioned departures and Rob Gronkowski's significant injury concerns, Vereen might find himself lining up at receiver more than running back this season.

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