New England Patriots: Rex Burkhead’s return adds depth in versatility


The New England Patriots running attack took a jolt Sunday night with the return of versatile running back Rex Burkhead. 

Remember Rex Burkhead?  The newly acquired running back returned Sunday night to play just his third game as a member of the New England Patriots.  He looked “great” and most importantly felt great coming off a rib injury that kept him sidelined since Week 2.

"“It’s definitely great to be back out there with the guys,” Burkhead said following the game.  “It’s a great team win tonight [Sunday], in all phases.  We came out with really good energy and it felt like we played four quarters, and hopefully we can take this momentum with us going forward.”"

In the team’s 23-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Burkhead ran for 31 yards as part of an overall 162-yard rushing attack.  Included in those 31 yards were back-to-back 9-yard carries that further helped establish the tone Patriots running backs set for the game.

With Dion Lewis handling the brunt of the work with his 76 yards and both Mike Gillislee and James White getting touches, Burkhead’s return adds depth to a very versatile group of running backs.

Of course, we knew that coming into the season, but Sunday night was really the first game all four running backs were healthy and able to produce in the running game as well as the passing game.

A display of versatility

Highly touted for his versatility, Burkhead did catch one pass for 11 yards.  Again, he said he felt “great” to be a part of such a dynamic group that together add a punch to the New England Patriots offense.

More from Chowder and Champions

"“It’s great,” Burkhead said when asked about having the full stable of running backs.  “We’ve got so many backs that can do multiple things.  When you have versatility, it really helps us out as an offense and as a unit, so we love that.  We compete with each other, but we’re also the first ones there to root for one another when we make big plays so it was fun tonight to see everyone get their foot in the door.”"

It was also fun to see. With the combination of power and quickness each running back provides, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should have a field day drawing up plays to fit the strength of each back.  The running attack will also take some of the heat off Tom Brady’s shoulder…literally.

With the amount of hits the 40-year-old quarterback has taken through Week 7 of the season, having running backs like Rex Burkhead who can run the ball and catch it in short yardage situations will help keep opposing defenses off balance.

Next: New England Patriots: 3 Reasons Rex Burkhead is the Perfect Patriot

Hopefully Burkhead and the rest of the running back group can remain healthy to really showcase that depth in versatility.