Rex Burkhead will be back in the New England backfield this evening – his first opportunity to suit up since being placed on injured reserve following the game at Detroit in Week 3. In Burkhead’s absence, the Patriots have frequently dressed just two running backs for games, so, his inclusion in the 46-man game day roster should help provide options at that position. If nothing else, he’ll be able to give James White and Sony Michel some much-needed breathers at times.
Notable among the seven inactive Patriots today is defensive lineman Danny Shelton. He hasn’t made much noise on the field in this, his first year with the club, but did stand out last week against the Jets for all the wrong reasons (a pair of called penalties). Maybe it’s just a coincidence that he’s a healthy scratch this week (not listed on the injury report), but even when he was active, he didn’t make much of an impact defensively. His absence today likely won’t cause the team to alter its plans.
Tight end Dwayne Allen continues to nurse his left knee injury (suffered at Tennessee in Week 10) and was ruled out of this game on Friday. His run-blocking will be missed.
Also worth mentioning, rookie cornerback Duke Dawson will have to wait at least another week before he makes his NFL debut. He’s a healthy scratch for the second straight week since coming off IR. The rest of the inactive list is filled with usual suspects: defensive ends Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers, offensive lineman James Ferentz, and rookie cornerback Keion Crossen.
For a while this week, it looked as if Minnesota might have to take the field without two of its best players, one on each side of the ball. However, starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) will be active after barely practicing this week.
Ditto for wide receiver Stefon Diggs (knee). Their health will be something to monitor throughout the game, but having them available at least for the start of this contest is a bonus for the Vikings.