The New England Patriots entered the weekend with seven players listed on their injury report. While tight ends Matt LaCosse (knee) and Ryan Izzo (concussion) have already been ruled out, five other players were listed as questionable — among them running back Rex Burkhead, who was limited all week in practice because of a foot injury that already forced him to miss New England’s previous three games.
Against the Cleveland Browns later today, however, Burkhead is expected to be back in uniform: according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 29-year-old will be on the Patriots’ 46-man game day roster — good news not just for the player himself, but also for a New England offense that has not lived up to its full potential over the last few weeks and displayed some stretches of inconsistent play both on the ground and in the passing game.
Burkhead’s return should help in both areas, as the veteran has been productive in his usual rotational role over the Patriots’ first four games of the season: he was on the field for 117 offensive snaps, and received 24 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown — leading the team’s running backs with 4.7 yards per rushing attempt. Furthermore, he also caught 14 passes so far this year for an additional 117 yards.
With the veteran runner back in the fold, the Patriots’ backfield for today’s game will feature the three-headed attack of Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White, with special teams ace/reserve scat back Brandon Bolden behind them. Third-round rookie Damien Harris, meanwhile, again seems to be a realistic candidate to be declared inactive 90 minutes before kickoff.