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Burkhead 'excited' for playoff return

Patriots news and notes from Gillette Stadium

Last time we saw Rex Burkhead in a game, the running back was being helped to the sideline after suffering a right knee injury at Heinz Field in Week 15. The veteran ball carrier sat out the following two regular season games and all the practices in between, but returned to the practice field last week prior to New England's playoff bye. He has continued progressing toward a potential postseason return this week.

Burkhead admitted to reporters Wednesday that being out of commission for an extended period for a second time this season was frustrating, but that he did his best not to dwell on those negative emotions because he understands that it doesn't benefit his team.

"Of course, after the injury, you never know [when you'll return], so, it's always in the back of your head… I'm just trying to stay positive and encourage the guys as much as I can," he remarked.

Meanwhile, his appearance on the practice field the past two weeks would seem to be a positive indication that Burkhead will be available to the Patriots come Saturday's Divisional Playoff versus the Tennessee Titans. He wouldn't guarantee that he'll be on the field, yet his comments sounded optimistic.

"Just ready to get back out there with the team. I'm must excited for the playoffs," declared Burkhead. "Preparing the best I can. The trainers do a tremendous job here. [I'm] staying mentally focused, locked in on assignments and plays… I think the bye week did – any chance you get for time off, it's good for the body. But it doesn't matter if we don't come out and play well against Tennessee. Big challenge with Tennessee. They have a great team, great defense, for sure.

"I'm just excited," Burkhead emphasized. "Whatever happens, happens." 

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