New England Patriots: Rex Burkhead Provides Excellent Versatility
By Nick Ziegler
The New England Patriots recently made another addition to their offense, as the signed running back Rex Burkhead.
It has been a very busy offseason for the New England Patriots after winning their fifth Super Bowl just a little over a month ago.
One of the reasons why the Patriots were able to have a successful 2016 season was because of a much-improved running game. Behind a better offensive line, the Patriots were able to have a solid running game.
When Brady was suspended the Patriots were forced to rediscover their running game. LeGarrette Blount had a very good season for them, as he set the single-season rushing touchdown record. Despite the great season, it doesn’t appear that Blount will be back with the Patriots in 2017.
Instead of Blount, the Patriots signed running back Rex Burkhead from the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Burkhead was the third-string running back on the Bengals, the Patriots obviously like him.
Last season, Burkhead totaled 344 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a 4.6 yards per carry average. In addition to being involved in the rushing attack, Burkhead totaled 17 receptions and 145 receiving yards.
In the final game of the season, Burkhead was given a chance to shine against the Baltimore Ravens. Burkhead was able to total nearly 150 total yards in that game, and certainly made an impression on other teams around the league.
Burkhead will certainly bring some more versatility to the Patriots’ backfield that already consists of James White and Dion Lewis. Both White and Lewis are also good receivers out of the backfield.
Adding Burkhead to that mix will give the Patriots another solid running back, and also a good player on special teams. If the Patriots don’t bring Blount back, they won’t have the traditional runner. However, the three main running backs will give them some nice versatility in their backfield.
According to Pro Football Focus, Burkhead received a 74.5-grade last season. Due to the limited opportunities, he didn’t qualify for the entire season. However, that grade would have ranked him 18th among running backs in the NFL if he could qualify. By comparison, Blount received a 68.1-grade last season.
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With the addition of Burkhead, the Patriots’ great offseason continues. It is scary to think, but the Patriots have actually improved this offseason on the offensive side of the ball.