The Patriots held their first on-field practice since coming back from their Week 11 bye, and it was mostly good news on the health front. Of the 53 players on the active roster, only tight end Dwayne Allen did not appear. That wasn't entirely surprising, given the left knee injury he sustained at Tennessee nine days ago. At the time, he was reportedly expected to miss at least a couple of weeks as a result.
Meanwhile, running back Rex Burkhead also wasn't spotted at the start of today's session. However, it is entirely possible that he came out to the field following the media viewing window.
Though still on injured reserve, Burkhead is the second of New England's two players designated to return from IR this season (rookie Duke Dawson is the other and he is now on the 53). Burkhead was placed on IR after Week 3's loss to Detroit with what was officially dubbed a neck injury (he also dealt with a concussion earlier this season).
He had been practicing prior to the bye, and in the locker room after today's practice, Burkhead was a conspicuous presence. He politely declined to speak on the record about his health status, but spent a few minutes chit-chatting with a handful of reporters, at which time he revealed that he and his wife, Danielle, celebrated the birth of their first child this week (a boy they named Jett). He appeared to be in good spirits, so, it will be interesting to see if he is back on the practice field tomorrow.
At this point, Burkhead remains eligible to be activated as early as next week's game against Minnesota.
This week, New England travels to New York to face an AFC East opponent for just the third time this season. All three of the Patriots' losses thus far in 2018 have come on the road, so, players recognize that they need to reverse that trend against the Jets at MetLife Stadium this Sunday.
"It's always intense, it's a great atmosphere," defensive end Trey Flowers remarked. "We understand that we didn't show up well many times on away games [this season], but we know we have to come with energy and match the energy of our opponents."
"There's motivation every week," observed cornerback Stephon Gilmore. "It's going to be a great atmosphere. It's always hard playing down there against a division team. We've got to be ready to go."