New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead returned to the field for Friday’s practice, his first time back in almost two weeks. He still might not be available to play, but he’s clearly close to a return with a short week of practice after facing the Carolina Panthers.
RB Rex Burkhead (34) loosens up at practice. It is his first appearance at the start of practice since injuring his ribs Sept. 17. pic.twitter.com/O5ZgVqEaRE— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 29, 2017
The Patriots had full attendance, which is something the Panthers couldn’t claim on Friday, as it appears unlike for a handful of their key players to take the field on Sunday.
Panthers: LB Jeremy Cash (calf), EDGE Daeshon Hall (knee), C Ryan Kalil (neck), WR Curtis Samuel (back), CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)
Kalil and Worley are both starters, while Samuel is a key rotational receiver in the offense. Look for the Patriots to generate pressure up the middle against Kalil’s replacement Tyler Larsen, and look for Tom Brady to target Worley’s replacement Kevon Seymour. Seymour has played just 1 defensive snap all season after the Panthers acquired him from the Bills on September 2nd.
Samuel had practiced in a limited capacity earlier in the week, but the Panthers have shut him down for the Patriots game.
DID NOT PRACTICE
Panthers: DT Kyle Love (ankle)
Love did not practice, but the Panthers did not declare him out. The former Patriot is worth monitoring as another possible inactive option.
The Patriots had full attendance.
Patriots: RB Rex Burkhead (ribs), OT Marcus Cannon (ankle, concussion), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe (groin), WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
Panthers: Thomas Davis (rib), Cam Newton (shoulder)
Davis could be ready to play against the Patriots, which would be a big boost for the Carolina defense. Newton remains limited.
Burkhead is listed as doubtful and will most likely not play against the Panthers. The other four players were listed as questionable. Hightower is expected to play and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the other players active, too.
Patriots: WR Danny Amendola (knee), WR Phillip Dorsett (knee), DB Nate Ebner (shoulder), CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
Panthers: WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), EDGE Charles Johnson (rest), DT Star Lotulelei (shoulder), EDGE Julius Peppers (rest), RB Jonathan Stewart (rest)
The Patriots had four players that were previously limited in practice return as full participants, a great sign for the health of the team. Hopefully all four will be removed from the list next week and they should all be expected to play a role against the Panthers.
They are listed as probable, which is weird because the league has stopped using “probable” as an injury report distinction before the 2016 season.
The Panthers certainly give a lot of their veterans days off from practice.
EDIT: It looks like the Patriots updated their injury report and Amendola, Dorsett, Ebner, and Gilmore are no longer listed. They are back to 100%.