Shane Vereen rushed for 101 yards and caught seven passes for another 58 in the Patriots' 23-21 win over the Bills. Oh, and he apparently did all that despite breaking his wrist on the game's first play.
FOX's Jay Glazer reported that Vereen broke a small bone in the opening seconds and "experienced numbness afterwards as bone [sat] on [a] nerve". The surgery Vereen now requires will keep him out "a few weeks," according to Glazer. New England plays again Thursday against the Jets and does not have a bye until Week 10 of the regular season.
How many games Vereen misses between now and then remains to be seen. What is pretty clear in the aftermath of that injury, though, is that Stevan Ridley will be back in the spotlight for New England. Ridley was the Patriots' No. 1 running back last year, gaining 1,263 yards on the ground and scoring 12 times.
He entered Week 1 with the same role, only to put the ball on the deck twice in the first half against Buffalo. One fumble was overturned by replay; the other was recovered by the Bills' Da'Norris Searcy and returned for a touchdown. Ridley finished the game with just nine carries, as Vereen gutted it out on the backfield.
LeGarrette Blount added seven rush attempts, although he gained just 15 yards. Blount still figures to see most of the reps as Ridley's backup for however long Vereen is out. The Patriots' other two RBs -- Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington, who just re-signed with the team on Saturday -- were both inactive against the Bills.
The injury comes as an unfortunate setback for Vereen, who proved Sunday that he's ready to take on a bigger role in the Patriots' offense. Vereen became a valuable weapon in the passing game during New England's 2012 postseason run, catching seven balls and scoring twice in two games after hauling in just eight receptions during the regular season.
The receiver- and tight end-starved Patriots had split Vereen out wide during camp and the preseason, too, in hopes that his versatility would aid the offense.
New England could get a boost, either this week versus the Jets or in Week 3 against Tampa Bay, when tight end Rob Gronkowski returns from injury. Gronkowski's presence obviously would provide Tom Brady with another key weapon in the passing attack. But the Patriots will have to make do without Vereen for the foreseeable future, increasing the onus on Ridley to take care of the football.