FOXBORO, Mass. — Rex Burkhead made his return to the New England Patriots’ practice field Thursday, suiting up for the first time since being placed on injured reserve Sept. 26.
Burkhead played in three games this season before suffering a neck injury in a Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions. He also dealt with multiple injuries last season, appearing in just 10 regular-season games.
Under NFL rules that require players placed on IR to sit out at least eight games before returning, the earliest Burkhead can return to game action is in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Rookie Sony Michel initially thrived as New England’s lead back in Burkhead’s absence, rushing for 316 yards and four touchdowns in Weeks 4, 5 and 6. Michel has missed the last two games with a knee injury, though, forcing the Patriots to rely on a backfield combo of James White, Kenjon Barner and converted receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Michel reportedly is likely to play this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in Week 10.
The Patriots now have used both of their allotted IR-return spots. Rookie cornerback Duke Dawson, who has yet to be activated after returning to practice two weeks ago, filled the other. Players must be added to the 53-man roster within 21 days of their first practice back.
New England cannot activate any additional players off IR this season, officially ruling linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, running back Jeremy Hill and cornerback Eric Rowe out until 2019.
In other news from Thursday’s practice, starting left tackle Trent Brown was not spotted after missing Wednesday’s session with an illness. Offensive tackle Cole Croston, who was released earlier this week, was present after being re-signed to the practice squad, where he replaced safety David Jones.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images