NFL Rumors: Patriots’ Mike Gillislee To Play Prominent Role Vs. Bills

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Patriots running back Mike Gillislee

Photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee could be primed for a revenge game against his former team — and his current one — Sunday afternoon.

Gillislee “figures prominently” into the Patriots’ Week 16 game plan against the Buffalo Bills, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning. That’s because Patriots running back Rex Burkhead was ruled out Friday, and third-down back James White reportedly isn’t expected to play.

Gillislee played with the Bills from 2015 to 2016 before New England signed him to a two-year, $6.4 million contract as a restricted free agent. The Patriots gave up a fifth-round pick in the transaction.

Gillislee has been a healthy scratch for six straight games, so he might be out to prove himself even more than usual on Christmas Eve.

If White is inactive, New England only will have three running backs active Sunday — Gillislee, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden. Bolden primarily has been a special-teams player this season and has just two carries in 14 games. One would assume if he has a role on offense Sunday, it would be a limited one.

Lewis likely will see the most action in Week 16, but the Patriots have limited his touches this season. The most he’s touched the ball in a single game this season was in Week 8, when he had 15 carries, two receptions and two kick returns.

If White is out, then Lewis might need to take on New England’s third-down pass catching duties, a role he played extensively in 2015 before tearing his ACL. If Lewis does factor more into the passing game, then Gillislee could be the Patriots’ early-down and short-yardage back.

We joked this week that Gillislee could have a Jonas Gray-esque game and go off for over 100 yards and multiple touchdowns. That prediction could be coming to fruition.

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