The New England Patriots will reportedly not have a couple of their running backs on Saturday when they take on the Tennessee Titans. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, both Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee are expected to remain sidelined for the Divisional Playoff matchup.
There is a bit of silver lining, however, as Schefter reports James White will return to the lineup for the first time since Week 15.
The bigger loss here for New England is Burkhead. He’s been a vital player for the Patriots in the red zone, totaling eight touchdowns on the season. Going up against the stout defensive front of Tennessee, it would have been nice to have the short-yardage specialist in the lineup.
Burkhead is still recovering from a knee injury.
“After the [knee] injury, you never know what is going to happen,” Burkhead told reporters. “So that’s always in the back of your head. But when you get good news, it helps you to look forward to these games a little better.”
Gillislee, who was acquired last year when the Buffalo Bills opted not to match the Patriots’ offer for him, has been a healthy scratch for many games.
The absence of these two backs likely means a heavy workload for Dion Lewis, who has emerged as the most reliable running threat on New England’s roster this season.