The writing was already on the wall, but now it has been confirmed: New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead will miss the remainder of the 2020 season as he himself announced on social media on Tuesday. The 30-year-old, of course, exited Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans after suffering a knee injury early in the third quarter.
“Appreciate the support and all those who have reached out the past couple of days. Look forward to coming back better than ever in 2021,” Burkhead wrote.
Before his injury — supposedly a torn ACL — Burkhead has played a valuable role for New England’s offense this season. While Sony Michel and, later, Damien Harris have seen most of the carries on early downs, he has served as a rotational change-of-pace option alongside them. In this role, Burkhead had been on the field for 269 of a possible 662 offensive snaps (40.6%), which is actually leading the Patriots’ running back group.
Furthermore, he has added 112 snaps in the kicking game — more than only five other players on the roster. Burkhead was prominently featured in two phases of the game and a true all-around player, one that will undoubtably be missed for a team trying to make a late push for a playoff spot.
As noted above, Burkhead’s season came to an end on a 3rd-and-1 running attempt in the early third quarter. He attempted to bounce to the outside, but was tackled short of the line to gain and subsequently remained on the ground. The veteran, who is in his fourth season with the team, later had to be helped off the field before being carted to the locker room and quickly being ruled out for the remainder of the contest and season.
With him no longer available, the Patriots’ running back depth is down to the aforementioned Damien Harris and Sony Michel as well as third-down/receiving option James White. New England also has undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor available as a potential change-of-pace option, even though he has not seen the field since Week 3.
As for Burkhead, his future is very much in doubt given the injury: not only is he looking at a recovery process but also unrestricted free agency next spring.