Shane Vereen had his least productive day of the 2014 season in the Patriots’ 37-22 win at Buffalo as he ran for just four yards on five carries and caught just one ball for three yards. Nonetheless, Vereen’s workload is about to see a significant uptick.
Stevan Ridley tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee Sunday in Orchard Park, New York and is done for the 2014 season. Ridley looked as though he was becoming something of a featured back for the Patriots as his fumbling issues had subsided. He did not cough it up once in the 94 times he rushed the ball this season.
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After getting just eight carries in Week 1 against Miami, Ridley carried the ball 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 at Minnesota and got 19 touches in Week 3 against Oakland, running for 54 yards. He had just five carries against Kansas City (28 yards), but responded with 113 yards rushing when he carried the ball a season-high 27 times against the Bengals. And before he was injured late in the third quarter Sunday against the Bills, he had carried the ball 10 times for 23 yards.
Vereen, meanwhile, has long been thought of as more of a pass-catching back than a classic between-the-tackles runner. But in the pre-season and particularly in Week 1 against Miami, it seemed as though the Patriots had the idea that Vereen could be the main man in the backfield. In the first quarter of the Dolphins game, the Patriots ran 25 total offensive plays and looked Vereen’s way six times either via the run or pass. In fact, Vereen got the ball three straight times in a first quarter goal line situation against the Dolphins, running the ball in from two yards out to score the Pats’ first touchdown of the season. In the second quarter of Week 1, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also made it a point to get Vereen the ball as the Pats ran 23 offensive plays and four of them went in Vereen’s direction.
In the passing game, Vereen has been targeted 26 times already this season – the fourth highest mark on the team.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS