Monday, November 27, 2017

Rex Burkhead enjoying his elevated role with the Patriots

Patriots running back #34 Rex Burkhead gains yards on a run in the 4th quarter. [The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach]

By Mark Daniels
November 26, 2017

FOXBORO — Rex Burkhead spent the bulk of his time in Cincinnati as a special teams player. In his fourth season, last year, he earned more opportunities as a backup running back, but the bulk of his playing time didn’t come until the second half of the season.

What a difference a year makes.

After playing a career-high 238 offensive snaps a year ago, Burkhead entered Sunday with 113 through six games with the Patriots. There’s no question he’ll surpass last year’s mark if he stays healthy. Sunday’s performance against Miami showed how valuable Burkhead is to the Patriots offense.

“It’s huge,” Burkhead said of the opportunities he’s received with the Pats. “Just trying to find whatever role I can to help the team out. Help get wins. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Burkhead scored two touchdowns on Sunday to go along with 50 rushing yards (the second best mark of his career) and two receptions. The first score came on the first series as the back plowed into the end zone for a 2-yard score at 11:39 of the first.

In the second quarter, Burkhead was rewarded after setting up a first-and-goal following his 22-yard run. At 8:29 of the second, Tom Brady threw him a 2-yard touchdown pass.
The back’s ability to help both in pass and rush situations has created a nice complement with Dion Lewis, who ran for 112 yards on Sunday.

“It’s not being selfish about carries or whatever role you may want individually,” Burkhead said. “It’s just about what helps the team out and what helps us moving forward going down the line.”

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