FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots ideally would wait until rookie running back Sony Michel is fully healthy before putting him on the game field. They might not have a choice in the matter, though.
The Patriots placed running back Jeremy Hill on injured reserve Monday, and Rex Burkhead popped up on the injury report Wednesday with a concussion. Michel was limited with a knee injury Wednesday, and the Patriots’ running back ranks are getting shallow.
Third-down back James White is fully healthy, but he’s not a between-the-tackles runner. The Patriots signed Kenjon Barner on Tuesday, but at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, he’s also more of a change-of-pace back and punt returner. The Patriots also have Ralph Webb and Kenneth Farrow on their practice squad. Farrow, a bigger back compared to the rest of the Patriots’ running back stable at 5-foot-9, 219 pounds, was signed Wednesday.
Michel was non-committal about his playing status when asked Wednesday.
“I’m doing all I can to do to prepare,” Michel said. “Whatever coach’s plan is, I don’t know what his plan is, but my mindset is prepare as if I’m playing.”
He also said he’s “feeling pretty good.”
“Doing everything I need to do to get better, become a better player whether it’s in film room, extra work, but I’m feeling pretty good,” Michel said.
When asked if Michel feels like he’s progressing, he would only offer, “I hope so.”
“Every day, it’s all about progression,” Michel said. “You always want to get better, because if you’re not, you’re getting worse. You’re never staying the same. That’s kind of been my mindset and something coach always preaches, ‘try to get better every day on something.'”
If Michel can’t play, or the Patriots choose to keep holding him out, then they would likely have to sign Webb or Farrow off the practice squad.
Webb, an undrafted rookie, is 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and carried the ball 31 times for 102 yards with two rushing touchdowns in the preseason. He also caught five passes for 28 yards with a receiving touchdown.
Farrow played in one preseason game with the Patriots. He carried the ball five times for 24 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards.
He played 13 games, starting two, as a rookie in 2016 with the then-San Diego Chargers. He carried the ball 60 times for 192 yards and caught 13 passes for 70 yards. He missed the 2017 season with an ankle injury.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images