The New England Patriots’ offensive backfield will look quite differently today against the New York Jets, with two players out for the AFC East contest. Fullback James Develin, who is recovering from a neck injury, was already ruled out for the game on Friday; later today, running back James White will reportedly join him on the list of inactive players: according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, White is an excused absence as his wife is expected to give birth.
Without the 27-year-old, the Patriots are expected to rely heavily on Rex Burkhead as their receiving/change-of-pace back against the Jets. Burkhead, of course, is no stranger to playing a role: he is in his third year in the system and has looked good in a rotational role alongside White and primary runner Sony Michel. Another player who could see additional action due to White’s absence is third-round rookie Damien Harris.
White now becomes the second Patriot to miss a game this season because of the birth of a child: Kyle Van Noy was given a day off in Week 1, when his wife gave birth to a son. New England, however, did not skip a beat and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-3 despite missing the starting linebacker. Given the Jets’ issues this season, a repeat performance would therefore not be unexpected even with White not available.