While on his way to attend Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Patriots running back Shane Vereen told Boston.com that he doesn't feel any pressure filling Danny Woodhead's old role as the team's change-of-pace running back.
Vereen, who was speaking on behalf of Fanatics.com, a sports apparel retailer with licenses across the four major sports and college, discussed being a hockey fan, the Bruins, the Patriots, and his role on the team going into training camp.
Here are excerpts of Vereen's comments:
How did you get hooked up with Fanatics.com?
"That's a great question. They approached me. I jumped on the opportunity. You know at first I didn't know much about them, but I'm learning more and more.
"I got my own personalized jersey with my name and number on the back. My family is gonna start using Fanatics now. It's a different experience."
What does this mean for you, the Shane Vereen brand, moving into a different sort of limelight?
"It's pretty cool, I'm excited for it. I'm just trying to do the best job I can."
Tell me more about the jersey you're wearing?
"It's the black jersey with my name and number on the back. It has an old school Bruins logo with the bear."
Is that similar to the bear you used to wear at Cal?
"Yeah, I guess it does look similar. It's a kind of similar bear, although they're the Bruins. We don't like to talk about those other Bruins (UCLA), if you know what I'm saying."
That leads me into my next question. We hear you're a big hockey fan now. As a guy from the Los Angeles area, where do your allegiances lie, with the Kings or the Bruins?
"I think I hope for the LA teams to do well in any sport. However, I was not a big hockey fan until I moved to Boston. I kind of adopted it. So that's why I'm a big Bruins fan."
Did Julian Edelman, also a native Californian, get you into hockey?
"No, not entirely. But he's part of it."
Can you break down the Bruins' keys to winning this series for us?
"No chance I can give you hockey talk. But I can give you three keys of what I think. I got three of my own keys, I think.
"No. 1 is they play good defense. Offense wins games, defense wins championships.
"No. 2 is be more physical -- be the more physical team, I should say.
"And No. 3 is if you're not cheering in Fanatics gear, then you're not a true fan. Just for today. (Laughs.) Just for today."
Give me some cross analysis here: You're a fast guy -- I think everybody knows that -- and you haven't quite popped yet as far as full potential for the Patriots. Tyler Seguin is also a speed guy for the Bruins who some would argue hasn't quite popped yet, either. Would you say he's the Shane Vereen of the Bruins?
"That's funny. I actually had the opportunity to meet Tyler. He's one of my good friends. It depends on the game. If he plays bad, then no, I can't be associated with him. But if he plays good, then yeah, we're just alike. (Laughs.)"
Which Bruin is your favorite?
"I'd definitely say Tyler. But I like [Brad] Marchand, too. He's a little guy, but he fights back. He's got that little man complex. I guess I shouldn't say that. But he's good."
Do you consider yourself a fashionable guy, in comparison to, say, Stevan Ridley with his onesies and moon boots?
"I would never wear moon boots and onesies. However, I do have a couple of onesies courtesy of Stevan. But I won't be wearing any of them any time soon."
Patriots minicamp wrapped early. That's usually a sign that Bill Belichick has liked what he has seen. You've got the next month off; what do you do in your free time to prepare for training camp and the season?
"Stay focused. Trying to get myself ready for a long season. I've got to be able to be durable and last the full 16 games. That's important."
Are you able to get around town -- not in California, but here -- and not be recognized?
"Yeah, there's times when people recognize me. It shows that fans are real supportive of what you do. I love it. I love being in a city where people take it this seriously."
Danny Woodhead's departure is being universally seen as an opportunity for you to fill a role as the change-of-pace running back, the third-down guy, and the guy who plays a critical part of the no-huddle. Do you feel the weight of that responsibility, the anticipation for you to fill that role, when you talk to fans?
"I don't know if I feel pressure. I know that everybody on the team has a job and a role. When your number is called, you have a job to do. That's what I like, that's what I look forward to. I'm just hoping that when my number is called, I can fulfill my job to my best ability."
Two weeks ago, I asked on Boston.com which running back on the Patriots roster would surprise us the most this season. Can you answer that?
"I can't answer it. But hopefully all of us. I do think we have a good running back group and we can all surprise. I'm looking forward to it."
Last question: Give us your Stanley Cup Final prediction. How many games? Who wins?
"Bruins in six. And as soon as they win, everybody needs to go to Fanatics.com and pick up championship gear so they can become a better fan. (Laughs.)"