New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen is expected to make his season debut this Monday against the Carolina Panthers. However, Vereen has not yet been activated from the IR (the Patriots have until Monday to do so), which clouds his status for this week a little bit in preparation for a tough matchup against a stingy Panthers’ defense. The Patriots did say early in the week that they would be ramping up the intensity levels on Vereen this week to see how he responds to the increased physicality. No word on how he responded to the increase, but that fact that no setbacks were reported is definitely a good sign. Because Vereen has not been activated from IR yet, he is not currently listed on the official Pats injury report.
Injury Outlook: We’re not going to have much solid information to make an educated guess about whether Vereen will or won’t play and how many snaps he will take and which color cleats he will wear. This is the Patriots, who are as tight-lipped as it gets when it comes to injuries. Coming off a broken left wrist with around 10 weeks to heal, Vereen SHOULD be fine in making his anticipated return. When surgery is required, it increases the estimated time frame for return than a standard fracture that is allowed to heal naturally. So even if we estimate his return at closer to 8 weeks, there should be no reason why he won’t make his return this week.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Why is there so much doubt about his return when it’s just a wrist we’re talking about?”. And I’d sort of agree with that sentiment because we are talking about a guy who can run/cut/sprint without issue, so his conditioning should still be relatively on point. The big issue coming off this type of injury is sort of what we had been detailing all summer with Rob Gronkowski and his injured forearm: can he withstand the forces required to block, can his brace his fall when landing on that wrist, have they restored full range of motion in order to allow him to catch balls without limitation. Those are a lot of questions to answer still for any skills player, with intensity of blocking being the biggest one in my mind. And that’s what I feel they were referencing when talking about increasing the demands on Vereen this week to see how he responds.
My guess is that he’ll play and be on some sort of snap count, but I don’t really expect it to be a very strict snap count. Like I mentioned, physical conditioning shouldn’t be a problem, so I could totally envision him getting at least ~75% of his regular snaps in his first game back. But since it’s the Patriots, I could also see him being activated and playing one series because Coach Bill likes to do things like that to us fantasy owners. This might end up being a situation when you have to play more of a sure thing since waiting until Monday to hear anything leaves us with few options.
I will speak from experience, so know that I have him rostered in one league and am not playing him this week. I truly think he will be activated in time to play, I’m just not willing to wait that long and risk not having a viable replacement for him just in case.
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