New England Patriots: Rex Burkhead injury update

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 17: Rex Burkhead /

In the thrilling win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots did see running back Rex Burkhead go down with an injury.

One of the key additions for the New England Patriots this season has been running back Rex Burkhead. As mostly a special teams player for the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots saw something in Burkhead at the end of last season when he was given an opportunity to showcase his abilities at running back.

The strong audition at the end of last season with the Bengals resulted in Burkhead getting a contract with New England. While Burkhead does still play special teams in New England, he has also been a big part of the offense.

As a running back that can both catch and run the football, Burkhead’s versatility has been very useful for the offense this season. After Mike Gillislee was ineffective early in the season, Burkhead was one of the players that were able to get more playing time in the backfield for New England.

With Gillislee becoming a healthy scratch in recent weeks, it has been Burkhead taking over as the primary goal-line back. In this role, Burkhead has thrived. In the last four games, Burkhead was able to total six total touchdowns, as he really found success as a goal-line back.

Unfortunately for the Patriots and Burkhead, he suffered a knee injury in the game against the Steelers. However, initial reports are promising, as it doesn’t appear like it is a major injury.

Seeing Burkhead avoid a dreaded ACL tear is great news for the Patriots. During their recent good stretch of football, he has been a key contributor. Now, the injury to Burkhead does open the door back up for Gillislee.

Next: Week 15 Team Grades vs. Steelers

Coming into the season, Gillislee was projected to be the primary back in New England. However, it has been Dion Lewis in that role for most of the season. With Burkhead likely out until the postseason, it could be Gillislee who gets the chance to be the goal-line back for New England down the stretch.