The New England Patriots will be without some notable contributors for Sunday’s game. We’ll see if that hurts them against the 0-4 Washington Redskins (it probably won’t).
Running back Rex Burkhead (foot) and defensive backs Patrick Chung (heel) and Nate Ebner (groin) were all ruled out on Saturday.
RB Rex Burkhead and DBs Patrick Chung and Nate Ebner have been downgraded to out for tomorrow’s game. #NEvsWAS— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 5, 2019
Burkhead might be the most notable absence given that he has easily been the Patriots’ most effective runner this year. Starting running back Sony Michel has disappointed so far, averaging only 2.8 yards per run on 62 attempts, while Burkhead has averaged 4.7 yards on 24 attempts.
Additionally, Burkhead is the only running back regularly used by the Patriots whose presence isn’t a significant tell for what the team plans to do. The offense has passed on only 25.3 percent of Michel’s snaps (the lowest in the NFL, min 75 snaps), while James White’s snaps have seen 89.3 percent pass plays (the highest). Of course, this is also the Patriots. The scheme has still been effective.
The Patriots could turn to Michel and White more and possibly mix things up with them to make up for Burkhead’s absence. They could also turn to third-round rookie Damien Harris, a well-rounded back out of Alabama who has yet to see a touch this season.
As for Chung and Ebner, losing a starting safety and top special teams gunner would be tough if the Patriots were playing a team that wasn’t Washington. The team will also be featuring a new kicker in Mike Nugent after Stephen Gostkowski’s placement on injured reserve.
TE Benjamin Watson also reportedly not playing
The Patriots will also reportedly be without tight end Benjamin Watson, who was eligible to play for the first time this season after serving a four-game PED suspension.
However, ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Watson will not travel with the team and is out for Sunday. We’ll see if he makes the roster next week against the New York Giants.
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