More Bad News for the Patriots

September 27, 2018

New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will be without two key players for at least the next two months.

The team is placing running back Rex Burkhead and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on injured reserve.

Burkhead exited in the second half of Sunday night’s loss at Detroit due to a neck injury. He did not return.

Bentley’s injury is unclear. The rookie linebacker played 63 percent of the defensive snaps through three games. He made an immediate impression and seemed to be rapidly developing into one of the team’s best all-around linebackers, flashing strength and instincts against the run and athleticism in coverage. Bentley intercepted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the third quarter of the Patriots’ Week 3 defeat.

Depending on the severity of their injuries, Burkhead and Bentley are eligible to return in Week 12. The Patriots can bring two players off IR. Rookie cornerback Duke Dawson is another candidate for return.

Without Burkhead, rookie Sony Michel figures to handle the majority of early-down work. The Pats have fed the ball to Michel on over 80 percent of his snaps so far. James White could see an uptick in carries, too.

Bentley’s injury likely means additional playing time for third-year pro Elandon Roberts, who has played 33 percent of the defensive snaps thus far.

On the good news front, defensive end Trey Flowers, safety Patrick Chung and tight end Jacob Hollister returned to the practice field.

All three players missed the Week 3 loss at Detroit. Flowers and Chung were dealing with concussions.

The trio was limited in today’s practice, as were eight other players.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski (ankle), defensive end Geneo Grissom (ankle), and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (elbow) were added to the injury report.

Cornerback Eric Rowe (groin), tackle Marcus Cannon (calf), cornerback Keion Crossen (hamstring), safety Nate Ebner (hip), and wide receiver Josh Gordon (hamstring) remained limited.

Flowers spoke with the media afterward, but did not commit to playing Sunday. He remains in concussion protocol.

“I expect to work (toward) being able to play,” Flowers said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

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