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His lackluster production was a far cry from the 1,167 yards and 13 TDs he scored on 231 carries in 12 starts his last season at Cal.
“Shane, you could tell he was going to be a very smart and intelligent guy, but it might have taken him a little while longer because he really wanted to focus on what he had to do,’’ Faulk said. “Early on, he got caught up in a couple of injuries and it kind of discouraged him.
“As a competitor, you get very discouraged real easily when you’re not involved in the play. You can see it in him.
“And to actually see it happen last week, that’s why I was so excited.’’
Of the three touchdowns he scored, which one was he particularly proud of?
“Well, on the last one, Tom threw a perfect, perfect pass,’’ said Vereen, referring to the 33-yard TD catch he made streaking past the man-to-man coverage of Texans linebacker Barrett Ruud.
“It was a matchup we were hoping to get,’’ Vereen said, “and we were able to execute the play.’’
No doubt Vereen would love nothing more than to execute a similar play against the Ravens. It is, after all, a game in which he’d much prefer an active role.
“Last year, I wasn’t able to play in the game,’’ Vereen said. “This year, I’ll probably have a little bigger role. But you understand the seriousness of the game and you understand that they’re the other best team in the AFC and that it’s going to be a battle and you’ve got to come prepared.
“This year, I’m able to contribute and I hope to help the team in the best way I can.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.