Shane Vereen poised for versatile role in Patriots offense

USA TODAY Sports

The little-used running back could become a key target for Tom Brady.

With Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker gone and Rob Gronkowski out indefinitely, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is running short on reliable options. Third-year running back Shane Vereen, who didn't make much of an impact on offense during his first two seasons, is hoping to become one of Brady's prime targets, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald.

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In 18 career games, Vereen has rushed just 77 times for 308 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't make a catch during his rookie season, and in 2012 he caught eight passes for 149 yards and one score. The Patriots' receiving corps is somewhat thin, especially when it comes to the kind of targets Brady loves to use as safety valves. Danny Amendola will likely become the primary receiver for the Pats, but even though Vereen doesn't have the exact skill set of New England's recent tight ends and slot receivers, he sees an opportunity to fill a void.

"This season, I have to be able to get [Brady's] trust," Vereen told Guregian. "I have to come out every day, work hard, and gain his trust once again, and help put the offense together."

Brady is the kind of quarterback who finds a favorite receiver or two and makes them vital pieces of the offense. In recent years, he's turned Hernandez, Welker and Gronkowski into household names, and if Vereen does indeed earn Brady's trust, the running back will see his role in the offense greatly expanded, too.

If Brady takes a liking to the 24-year-old in the passing game, NFL fans who have never heard of Vereen should know his name by the end of the year.

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