Ja'Whaun Bentley

Patriots Notes: Running backs, Allen, Bentley

The Patriots currently have a unique situation. The team is currently carrying just two running backs after they released Kenjon Barner to make room for Julian Edelman on the 53-man roster. The team cut Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden right before the season, and Jeremy Hill went down with a season ending knee injury early on. Then Rex Burkhead got placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, leaving them extremely thin in the backfield.

They’re down to only receiving specialist James White and rookie Sony Michel, and they will likely add outside help soon according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. Reiss writes “the team can’t expect to get by with just two running backs” and that it’s possible either Barner or Gillislee are brought back in the coming days. Undrafted rookie Ralph Webb is also on the team’s practice squad and could be called up.

Here’s more from New England:

  • There’s been a lot of media speculation about Dwayne Allen‘s roster spot the past couple of years, but Allen isn’t going anywhere Reiss writes. Reiss notes that Belichick “places a high value on his blocking and team-first approach” and that his roster spot is safe. Allen makes a lot of money for a blocking specialist, with an average salary of over $5MM, but it sounds like he’s in the Patriots’ longterm plans.
  • Reiss has details on the injury that landed rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on injured reserve. It’s a torn biceps according to Reiss, and Bentley has already undergone surgery and is rehabbing with the team. The fifth round pick had shown a lot of promise before going down a couple of weeks ago.
  • In case you missed it, yesterday the Patriots waived their 2016 second round pick cornerback Cyrus Jones.

Patriots To Place RB Rex Burhhead On IR

The Patriots will place running back Rex Burkhead on injured reserve with a neck injury, according to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). The Pats will also place rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on IR with an unknown ailment. To fill Bentley’s place on the roster, the Pats have signed outside linebacker John Simon, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets

Burkhead, 28, had to be cleared from concussion protocol prior to the Patriots’ Week 3 game against the Lions. Unfortuantely, he was forced out of that game with a neck injury, putting the rest of his season in jeopardy. It’s currently unknown whether Burkhead is a candidate to return from IR later this year or if this is a definite season-ender.

In three games, Burkhead failed to get going on the ground with 24 rushes for 86 yards. Last year, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry in a limited sample.

Burkhead’s injury should mean a larger workload for rookie Sony Michel and more carries for James WhiteKenjon Barner is back in the fold, so the club may opt to stand pat with those three active running backs plus fullback James Develin.

Bentley, meanwhile, is the just the latest Patriots 2018 draft pick to be placed on IR this season, joining first round tackle/guard Isaiah Wynn, second-round cornerback, sixth-round wide receiver Braxton Berrios, and others.

Simon spent one season with the Colts, but in their new 4-3 defense, he was not viewed as an ideal fit. He spent the prior five seasons of his career with 3-4 teams — the Ravens and Texans — and has worked in a starting role for the past three years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.