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Shane Vereen's return comes with added leadership role


Shane Vereen discusses his return from injury and new role as the most experienced running back on the roster:

The Giants' most versatile running back is now their most experienced.

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Vereen, 28, takes over the room as the elder statesman, embarking on his seventh NFL season and third with Big Blue. However, the Giants missed that versatility and experience last season after Vereen twice tore his triceps, first in Week 3 vs. Washington and again in Week 15 vs. Detroit with a stint on injured reserve in between.

Vereen admitted this spring that he was a little too eager and rushed back too soon. This time around, he and the training staff are taking their time so Vereen can be ready for Week 1, which is the first priority. Vereen was a regular attendee in the Giants' offseason workout program, but the team limited his workload.

"[The process] was long," Vereen said. "It wasn't the easiest, but you've got to do what you've got to do to get back. And this team is important to me, so I was willing to do anything to get back."

Vereen added: "I'm feeling good. I'm just blessed to be back out. I'm happy to be back out with the guys and working towards the same goal. … It's weird being the older guy, but I'm enjoying it. I'm trying to get everybody onboard and be the leader that the room needs."

Running backs coach Craig Johnson is happy, too.

"Shane has been around a lot of systems and has been a productive back for a long time," Johnson said of Vereen, who set the record for most receptions by a running back in Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots. "Last year was a tougher year for him because he wasn't able to stay on the field. He had to overcome injuries. Right now, he's working through that. I've watched him in the offseason and he is getting back some of his quickness. We have to makes sure that he is ready for the next season."

Meanwhile, the running backs room has a new starter in Paul Perkins. After watching Perkins come on strong down the stretch as a rookie, the team parted ways with Rashad Jennings. Over the offseason, coach Ben McAdoo named Perkins as the starter on first and second downs.

Together, they will try to improve a run game that finished 30th in yards per carry (3.5) and 29th in rushing yards per game (88.3) in 2016.

"We continue to work," Vereen said of the solution. "Nothing comes easy, especially here in the NFL. We know where we can be. We know where we have been. We know we can be better, and that's what we're working towards."

Improvements on the offensive line is another major part of the equation.

"They're doing great," Vereen said. "They've had a tremendous spring, and they're getting better, just like everybody else. I can't wait for camp to put the pads on and really get things going."

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