Pierre Strong might be nearing a return for the Patriots.

The sophomore back has been sidelined since suffering an undisclosed injury during New England’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans on Aug. 10. Strong didn’t travel to Green Bay last week for joint practices with the Packers and didn’t suit up for Saturday night’s preseason game at Lambeau Field.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss offered an encouraging update on Strong in his latest Sunday notes column while revealing the 2022 fourth-round pick was dealing with a concussion.

“Barring an unexpected turn, the plan is for second-year running back Pierre Strong Jr. to rejoin the team this week after not traveling to Green Bay because he was in the concussion protocol,” Reiss wrote. “Strong likely gets bumped down the depth chart with (Ezekiel) Elliott’s arrival, but it’s hard to imagine there still isn’t a role in which the 5-foot-11, 212-pound player’s breakaway speed — a notable contrast to Stevenson and Elliott — can be tapped at times.”

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As Reiss mentioned, Strong will have ground to make up upon his return.

With Elliott now in the fold, the South Dakota State product has little chance of securing the Patriots’ top backup running back role. Instead, Strong likely will compete with fellow sophomore Kevin Harris for the third spot on the depth chart. Both players also could face competition from ascending fourth-year pro J.J. Taylor, with veteran Ty Montgomery also a potential factor if he returns from injury.

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The Patriots will practice Tuesday and Wednesday in New England before traveling to Tennessee for Friday night’s preseason game against the Titans.

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