When we talk about potential improvement to the New York Giants’ offense, the focus is on the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram as well potential improvement from second-year man Sterling Shepard. An underrated improvement, though, could be the return to health of running back Shane Vereen.
Let’s look at what impact Vereen could have as we near the end of our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
Vereen played in only five games, twice suffering a torn triceps. He was first placed on IR and brought back, then placed on season-ending IR following the second injury. He carried 33 times for 158 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and caught 11 passes for 94 yards. It was, for all intents and purposes, a lost season for Vereen.
2017 Season Outlook
If Vereen, 28, can be somewhere near the player he was for the Giants in 2015 he could be a huge factor. Here is what Vereen did in 2015:
Vereen set career highs in receptions (59), targets (81), yards receiving (495), receiving touchdowns (4) and catch percentage (72.8 percent). He ran 61 times for 260 yards (4.3 yards per carry). He also filled in at times for Dwayne Harris as the kickoff returner, bringing back 14 kickoffs for 321 yards (22.9 yards per return). His 1,076 all-purpose yards was a career high.
The 59 receptions placed him second on the Giants behind Odell Beckham Jr., who had 96 catches in his 15 games played. Thirty-nine percent (23) of Vereen's 59 receptions created first downs.
Pay particular attention to those first downs created. Running backs other than Vereen caught 72 passes for the Giants last season, 21 for first downs. That’s 29.2 percent, a big drop from what Vereen provided them in 2015. That’s a lot of stalled drives Vereen could perhaps have kept alive.
Vereen, 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, is not an every down back. The most carries he has ever had in a season is 96, with the New England Patriots in 2014. He is a guy who can be effective when asked to carry the ball on a limited basis, averaging 4.3 yards per carry throughout his career.
His ability to create first downs and be a red zone mismatch, though, are the things the Giants benefit most from in 2017.