The New England Patriots’ 27-20 loss against the Houston Texans was a disappointing one not just because of the end result and its potential impact on their playoff hopes. The Patriots also suffered what appeared to be a major injury loss along the way when running back Rex Burkhead stayed on the ground following a running play in the third quarter.
Burkhead was tackled while trying to get to the corner on a 3rd-and-1 play, and had to be helped off the field after an injury timeout was called. He immediately went to the blue pop-up tent on the sideline for further evaluation before leaving the game on a cart. Just a short time later, the Patriots ruled him out for the remainder of the game — a potential sign about the severity of the injury.
Indeed it seems as if Burkhead’s season will now be over: as first reported by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the organization fears that the veteran running back suffered a torn ACL against the Texans. An MRI will be performed to confirm this initial diagnosis.
Burkhead was in the middle of an impressive season as a versatile change-of-pace option in the Patriots’ offensive backfield. The 30-year-old, who restructured his contract earlier this year, had registered 466 yards from scrimmage on 92 touches this season before his injury and also scored six touchdowns — second most on the team behind only quarterback Cam Newton.
“I talked to him. We’ll wait and get medical confirmation, but obviously he has a knee injury,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Burkhead’s supposedly season-ending injury after the game.
With Burkhead likely to miss the remainder of the season, the Patriots’ primary running back group will consist of Damien Harris and Sony Michel as the early-down options and James White as the receiving back. New England also has undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor available to possibly fill Burkhead’s role, but he has not seen the field since Week 3.
Burkhead, meanwhile, might have played his last game as a Patriot: the veteran is an unrestricted free agent next year.