Rex Burkhead hasn't played in a game since Week 3, but that dubious streak could come to an end this Sunday. Speaking to reporters Thursday, the veteran running back acknowledged that he still has some rust to knock off, but sounded confident that he'll be back in the Patriots backfield.
"I hope so. I feel good. I'm really looking forward to being back here on the field on Sunday and just being back with the team," he declared.
Burkhead was placed on injured reserved following the Lions game with what was originally described by the club as a neck injury. Media reports thereafter suggested it could have been a concussion, something Burkhead dealt with the week before he went on IR.
Earlier this month, though, Burkhead resumed practicing with teammates when the Patriots elected to make him the second of their two options to bring a player back from IR this season (rookie cornerback Duke Dawson was the other). Upon returning from a victory over the Jets in New York this past weekend, the Patriots went a step further and reinstated Burkhead to the 53-man roster.
When asked Thursday if he was surprised that the Patriots decided to shelve him for an extended period, Burkhead declined to go into detail about the nature of the injury, but confessed it was tough to be forced to watch from afar. He also praised the team's medical staff and strength/conditioning coaches for keeping him physically fit during the layoff. He also kept his mind as football-sharp as he could.
"Just worked my tail off, doing whatever I could," Burkhead continued. "I controlled what I could control.
"It's been different, it's been weird not being around everything... It puts things in perspective. Makes you really appreciate your time out on the football field and in the locker room with the guys. You miss it. It feels great, practicing again and being around the guys the past few weeks."
November has been an important month for Burkhead, both on and off the field. In addition to getting back to normal football activities, the 28-year-old and his wife, Danielle, recently welcomed their first child, a boy named Jett.
"It's been great," Burkhead grinned. "Got a new little boy in the family. That's been exciting. It's such a blessing to have a healthy boy and learning the tricks of the trade of fatherhood. It's been a blast."
And so, he expects, will his eventual return to the game lineup, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
"I'm excited," he added. "Especially with it being a home game against a good team like the Vikings. It's definitely going to be a challenge for us."