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Vereen replacements available

With Shane Vereen headed toward possible free agency, there is no shortage of potential replacements in the draft.

INDIANAPOLIS – Shane Vereen may not be a household name across the nation, at least until he caught 11 passes in the Super Bowl, but some of the running backs entering the draft are well aware of the pending free agent's skill set.

Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, who at 5-9, 210 pounds is similar in stature to Vereen, jumped at the opportunity to discuss New England's pass-catching back.

"He's nasty. I watch a lot of his film to help myself out in my route-running," Abdullah said. "He runs the best option route I feel like in the NFL right now. He does a good job of stemming the linebackers, snapping them off and using his head to get some separation. Outstanding hands. He's guy who's going to be in the league a long time."

With Vereen reportedly looking for $5 million annually (according to the Boston Herald), there's a real chance he's played his last game in New England. Rookie James White, who has some of the characteristics to be a third-down back, basically red-shirted in 2014 so he's largely unproven at this time.

Abdullah believes he could factor into the mix.

"I never want to put myself in just one role," he said. "I'd like to be a guy that can play on first down, on second down, on third down but if a team drafts me and says '[third down] is what they need me to do,' yes sir, I'll do that."

Miami's Duke Johnson is similarly undersized and also mentioned Vereen and the possibility of contributing in the passing game. The 5-9, 206-pounder had success between the tackles with the Hurricanes but has no problem emulating Vereen.

"I like it," he said of Vereen's style. "It's something that kind of looks like what I do. Just the way he comes out of the backfield, creates mismatches with the linebackers. He caught a lot of passes [in the Super Bowl] to help them win. It's a role I feel like I can do and also line up like a receiver and run routes."

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