With Danny Amendola missing a second straight day of practice (concussion/knee), it’s becoming more likely that the Patriots will head into Sunday’s matchup at New Orleans dangerously thin at wide receiver. Not ideal, especially not coming off a loss.
Newcomer Philip Dorsett became the third receiver in three-receiver sets once Amendola exited the game in the third quarter. He was targeted once. The pass wasn’t even in the same area code as Dorsett was. With some extra time to get up to speed, the former Indianapolis Colt should have a better grasp on the playbook, but chemistry with Tom Brady is not easy to come by. That’s why Rex Burkhead seemed like a logical choice to get a more expanded role in the offense, including some more playing time in the slot, where Amendola operates so effectively.
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“I don’t really work in the slot specifically,” said Burkhead. “Running backs here run some routes out of the backfield. Whatever the coaches want me to do, I’m more than happy to do that.”
Odd response from someone who had spent some time working as a slot receiver in Cincinnati before returning full-time to running back. But Burkhead seems like an earnest guy so it’s hard not to take him at his word. When reminded of that period with the Bengals, the 27-year old’s memory was jogged. . . somewhat.
“I did a little bit," Burkhead said, "but it's whatever the coaches want me to do here - if that's in the run game, the pass game - it's whatever role they see me fit."
Burkhead was also split outside the numbers at various points in the opener against Kansas City and in the preseason as well. That’s where his confidence shined through.
“I’m comfortable with it,” he said. “Still things I got to improve upon I feel like for sure but definitely comfortable. Growing up, I tried to be an all-purpose back, catching balls. Here, you have to be that.”
If he can be, Brady’s life will become easier than it was in Week 1, and Belichick’s personal involvement in Burkhead’s free agent recruitment will begin to pay regular season dividends.