FOXBORO -- Rex Burkhead was paying attention.
After watching how the Patriots offense operates -- and specifically how they use their backs in a variety of ways -- he knew that he'd like to play for them. As a free agent this offseason, it didn't take long before the two sides agreed to a one-year deal where Burkhead will seemingly have an opportunity to show that he can be an effective running back, receiver and special teamer in the right system.
"It was very intriguing, of course, how they use [their running backs]," Burkhead said. "Split them out, use them in the backfield, just the multi-dimensional ways that they use them. What coach McDaniels does with offensive schemes, it's great, and I felt like it was a fit for me."
Burkhead's size (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) and his ability to catch makes him the biggest all-purpose back on the Patriots roster. Dion Lewis has proven over the course of the last two seasons that he can be effective when used between the tackles as well as when used as a receiver, but he doesn't carry with him the frame that Burkhead does.
The former Bengals special teamer and 2013 sixth-round pick out of Nebraska said that if his new club wanted to use him lined up wide or in the slot -- as Cincinnati did in the playoffs three seasons ago -- he would be comfortable doing that.
"I grew up in Texas," he said with a smile. "We had 7-on-7s in the summers all the time. We had to play receiver. You can't hand the ball of there. Got comfortable with that.
"Just trying to be an all-purpose back. Being able to split out, catch passes out there is something I've always wanted to do."
Despite the presence of Lewis and James White on the roster, he should have the opportunity to do just that in New England. For a team that throws as much as the Patriots do, there will be in all likelihood enough targets to go around.