According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen will be activated from Injured Reserve today, and he is expected to suit up for Monday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
Vereen was placed on the Patriots Injured Reserve (with a designation to return) after suffering a wrist injury Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Although Vereen suffered the injury on the first play of that game, he played through the injury and ended the game with 101 yards rushing on 14 carries (7.2 yards per carry) and 58 yards receiving on 7 catches (8.3 yards per catch).
His return will only help an already dangerous Patriots offense, as he is one of the best young dual-threat running backs in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how the Panthers will try to defend him -- despite having one of the best run defenses in the NFL, they have struggled against elusive dual-threat runners like Vereen. In Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, they let C.J Spiller run for over 100 yards (6.4 yards per carry), and in Week 5 they let Andre Ellington average over 7.2 yards per carry and 7.8 yards per catch.
To stop the Patriots offense, the Panthers defense will have to be at their best -- the defensive line will need to control their gaps, the linebackers will need to stay disciplined and not over pursue, and the secondary will need to maintain their zones. On paper, this sounds easy enough, but against the Patriots spread hurry-up offense led by quarterback Tom Brady, it will be a tough task. Vereen’s return might make it just a little tougher.
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