Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

How Patriots will replace Rex Burkhead, Ja'Whaun Bentley

Ryan Hannable
September 27, 2018 - 2:03 pm

FOXBORO -- The Patriots got some bad news on Wednesday when running back Rex Burkhead and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley were placed on injured reserve.

Those two positions were among the weakest on the entire roster in terms of depth, so replacing them will be difficult. 

At running back, a lot will now fall on the shoulders of rookie Sony Michel. Following the season-ending injury to Jeremy Hill, the team was already lacking bodies and it became even worse with the Burkhead news. The team now has Michel, James White and Kenjon Barner at the position. White and Barner don't have much experience, or are known for running the ball, so this is now up to Michel until, and even if, other reinforcements are brought in.

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In two games, Michel has 24 carries for 84 yards, but a lot of this can be traced back to poor blocking up front.

Also, don't be surprised if the offense just passes more. It's really hard to count on these three players alone, which means ultimately it could just put more stress on Tom Brady and the passing game, which has under-performed so far this season.

Losing Bentley may be an even bigger loss just because of what he meant to the unit. Despite being a rookie, he was wearing the green dot as the signal caller and gave some speed to a fairly slow linebackers group. 

In terms of replacing him, it will likely be Elandon Roberts mostly, and then some Nicholas Grigsby, who has primarily been a special teamer.

Also, don't be surprised if the Patriots explore the trade market at both positions. While it's hard for new players to step in and make immediate impacts, the Patriots are approaching the desperate stage.

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