The New England Patriots hit the practice field ahead of their preseason matchup with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, August 23, 2017.
For two days straight, running back Rex Burkhead has not been seen at Patriots practice. This continues to baffle observers who watched Burkhead enjoy a productive game against the Houston Texans last weekend and who spoke at length with the veteran ball carrier in New England’s locker room just two days ago.
At that time, Burkhead exhibited no signs of any sort of affliction that would prevent him from taking the field this week. Yet, his absence from practice throws into question his availability for Friday’s third preseason tilt against the Lions in Detroit. The Patriots will depart for the Motor City later this afternoon.
On a positive note from the Patriots’ backfield, Burkhead’s fellow rusher Mike Gillislee suited up for his second straight day of work after missing much of training camp and the first two preseason contests.
Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, fresh of the physically unable to perform list (PUP) this week, looked active in post-stretching drills. He even spent a few minutes discussing finer points at length with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
Hightower’s condition remains unclear, but he was seen wearing a black compression sleeve around his right knee at today’s practice – perhaps an indication of what landed him on PUP in the first place. Nevertheless, he took part in his second consecutive practice.
Versatile backup offensive lineman Ted Karras was not spotted at the beginning of practice Wednesday, marking his first missed time this summer. However, an encouraging sign for left tackle Nate Solder saw him return for a second consecutive workout in uniform.
Rookie offensive lineman Andrew Jelks made a rare practice appearance and participated in rehabilitation exercises in shorts and a t-shirt. He has mostly been a no-show at practices all summer.
Defensive ends Geneo Grissom and rookie Deatrich Wise both dressed for practice, but joined Jelks and rookie defensive end Keionta Davis, another shorts-and-tee-shirt participant, on the upper field for rehab work after the team finished stretching as a group.
Meanwhile, linebacker Elandon Roberts shed his red (non-contact) jersey and is back to his full-go blue jersey after injuring his ribs versus Houston. Fellow defender and special teamer Brandon King continues to wear a red jersey due to an unspecified injury.
Those not taking part at all in today session were as follows: special teams co-captain Matthew Slater (left leg), wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (right knee), defensive end Shea McClellin (unspecified), tight end Matt Lengel (unspecified), rookie defensive end Derek Rivers (left knee), and rookie offensive linemen Tony Garcia (unspecified).
During the start of today’s practice, head coach Bill Belichick welcomed a special guest to the field – country music star Kenny Chesney, who will headline a pair of concerts this weekend at Gillette Stadium. A longtime football and Patriots fan, Chesney has played concerts at Gillette almost every year this millennium, and watched Super Bowl LI alongside Patriots owner Robert Kraft this past February.