New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - AFC EAST -

Although his off­sea­son free agent sign­ing didn’t cre­ate the splash that RB Mike Gil­lislee’s did, RB Rex Burk­head could be­come Bill Belichick’s lat­est di­a­mond-in-the-rough dis­cov­ery. The 2013 sixth-round pick from Ne­braska spent his first four sea­sons as a backup for the Cincin­nati Ben­gals. But Belichick liked what he saw from tough-run­ning, de­pend­able Burk­head, who rushed 27 times for 119 yards when pressed into ac­tion in the Ben­gals’ 2016 sea­son fi­nale.

Burk­head has seized on the in­creased work­load he has seen with Gil­lislee side­lined by a groin injury. In an Aug. 19 pre­sea­son loss to the Hous­ton Texans, 5-10, 210-pound Burk­head rushed seven times for 20 yards and had three re­cep­tions for 50 yards, in­clud­ing a 22-yard catch-an­drun from QB Tom Brady that re­sulted in a touch­down.

“I still have a long ways to go in some ar­eas,” Burk­head told the

Bos­ton Her­ald. “But I’m def­i­nitely more com­fort­able with things.”

Rookie watch: Un­drafted LB Har­vey Langi from Brigham Young made his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive start and recorded four tack­les while play­ing deep into the game. … The sea­son-end­ing knee injury suf­fered by thir­dround pick Derek Rivers, cou­pled with the re­tire­ment of vet­eran Rob Ninkovich, make New Eng­land thin at de­fen­sive end and might prompt a sign­ing.

Note­wor­thy: TE Rob Gronkowski saw his first pre­sea­son game ac­tion since 2012. The Pa­tri­ots nor­mally keep Gronkowski side­lined dur­ing ex­hi­bi­tion games to pre­vent the risk of fur­ther in­juries. He was on the field for 15 of the team’s first 17 plays Aug. 19 but wasn’t tar­geted by Brady. Gronkowski is com­ing

back from a back injury that side­lined him for eight games last sea­son. … Brady was 6-of-9 for 67 yards and one touch­down in his first two se­ries of the pre­sea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.