The New England Patriots will be a bit thinner at running back over the next couple weeks. But when the playoffs roll around, they expect to have their leading touchdown scorer back in the fold.
That’d be running back Rex Burkhead, who suffered a knee injury in the Patriots’ Week 15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Burkhead underwent an MRI on the knee Monday and was diagnosed with a knee sprain, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, citing sources. Per Rapoport, that’s good news for New England.
Burkhead was ruled out of last Sunday’s game immediately after getting injured, leading some to believe he suffered a serious injury and possibly an ACL tear. But the veteran running back reportedly dodged a bullet on that front, and the Patriots seem hopeful he can return in a few weeks’ time.
New England certainly would do Burkhead a favor by earning a first-round bye, which would give him three weeks to recover instead of two. The Patriots can secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed by beating the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in their last two games, but if they lose either of those contests, they could still fall to the No. 3 seed behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars and be forced to play on Wild Card weekend.
Burkhead has carved out an important role in New England’s offense as a threat in the running and passing games. His five rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns make him the Patriots’ highest-scoring skill player, ahead of even tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has seven TDs this season.