Patriots

Rex Burkhead returns to Patriots practice; can come off IR in Week 13

Rex Burkhead returns to Patriots practice; can come off IR in Week 13

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have been considerably thinned at the running back spot over the last few weeks, but they could be getting some reinforcements relatively soon. 

Rex Burkhead, who was placed on injured reserve in Week 4, was back on the practice field Thursday for the first time since late September. He was placed on IR with a neck injury after the Patriots lost to the Lions in Detroit, 26-10. 

There has been some optimism for weeks that Burkhead would be able to make his way back to the active roster at some point in 2018. He's been working out at Gillette Stadium, and he was in the building to watch Sunday night's win over the Packers. 

IR rules state that a player is not eligible to be activated until he's been on the reserve list for eight games. That would mean that Burkhead could return for a Week 13 matchup at home with the Vikings on Dec. 2. 

The Patriots have leaned on James White and Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield in recent weeks with both Burkhead and Sony Michel out. Michel could return to action this weekend in Tennessee after dealing with a knee injury he suffered in Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots QB Tom Brady pokes fun at Julian Edelman with Instagram comment

Patriots QB Tom Brady pokes fun at Julian Edelman with Instagram comment

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman recently posted an Instagram photo from his team's Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams earlier this month, accompanied by a great quote attributed to legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

Edelman appears to be late to the Patriots' huddle in the photo, and Tom Brady used it as an opportunity to poke some fun at his teammate in the comment section. Patriots wideout Josh Gordon even chimed in, too.

Check out both comments in the photo below:

Edelman certainly did his part in Super Bowl LIII. He tallied 10 receptions for 141 yards and was named Super Bowl MVP, becoming the first wide receiver to win the award in a decade. 

The victory was the Patriots' sixth Super Bowl championship in franchise history and the third for Edelman, who's building a postseason résumé as good as almost any other wide receiver in NFL history. That same résumé even has some people putting Edelman's name into the Hall of Fame discussion

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Rob Gronkowski barely edges Chris Herndon in PFF's AFC East tight end ranks

Rob Gronkowski barely edges Chris Herndon in PFF's AFC East tight end ranks

Rob Gronkowski was the best tight end in the AFC East in 2018. That should surprise no one.

What's quite eye-opening, though, is how much the gap has closed between him and his competitors.

Pro Football Focus revealed its AFC East tight end grades for the 2018 season Thursday and the New England Patriots' five-time Pro Bowler topped the list -- by just 0.1 point.

By PFF's estimation, Gronkowski essentially was as productive as New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon.

Who?

The 22-year-old rookie actually had a solid campaign, catching 39 passes for 502 yards (both second-highest on the team) with four touchdowns. But you wouldn't think he'd be in the same stratosphere as Gronkowski, who's never had fewer than 540 receiving yards in each of his nine NFL seasons.

These rankings are a sign of the times, however. Gronkowski still is mulling retirement after another taxing season in which he missed three games due to injury. The 29-year-old caught 47 passes for 682 yards in those 13 games and still was an excellent run blocker but scored just three touchdowns. His previous low TD mark during a season in which he played at least 10 games? Eight.

Gronkowski would go out on top as a (first ballot?) Hall of Famer if he retires this offseason. If he comes back for a 10th season, though, he'll have to fight to retain his standing as an elite NFL tight end.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.