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New England Patriots operating again Rex Burkhead (34) runs for a landing forward of Denver Broncos security Darian Stewart (26) within the first quarter at Sports Authority Field.(Photo: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports)

DENVER – It was a traditional Bill Belichick transfer.

Ninety minutes earlier than kickoff of Sunday night time’s sport towards the Broncos, the Patriots coach included his group’s main rusher on the inactive listing. Mike Gillislee, the group’s major short-yardage tailback, who this offseason signed a two-year, $6.four million contract, was a wholesome scratch.

The Patriots hardly missed him. The group’s 4 different operating backs mixed for 99 dashing yards and 38 extra receiving yards. Most essential, every of the highest three backs – Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White – scored a landing in a 41-16 rout.

If appears be maddening for fantasy soccer gamers to determine which of Belichick’s operating backs might be a function backs, think about what opposing defensive coordinators should really feel.

“We just have a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things. It depends on the matchup and the defense, and what the coaches are going to do,” White informed USA TODAY Sports. “We know we’re not all going to be out there every single play.”

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Indeed, the trio of Lewis, Burkhead and White had been a greater matchup towards the Broncos, with a Patriots sport plan that was clearly primarily based upon getting these smaller, quicker runners matched up towards Denver’s linebackers on go routes.

And it will shock nobody if Belichick shook up the operating again depth chart and energetic listing once more subsequent week for Sunday’s sport in Mexico City towards the Raiders.

“Sometimes I can play one play, Rex will play 30, Dion will play 15, it’ll be all spread out,” White stated. “You never know how it’s going to go. So whenever we step out there on the field, we have to make the most of the opportunities that we get.”

But ought to Gillislee — who leads the Patriots in dashing makes an attempt (98), yards (355) and dashing touchdowns (4) — as soon as once more spend the sport watching from the sidelines in a sweat go well with, it possible might be due to Burkhead, whose versatility as a runner, receiver and particular groups participant clearly intrigues Belichick. Gillislee, in the meantime, doesn’t play particular groups for the Patriots, nor does he have an intensive position within the pbading sport.

“It’s great to have players that can do multiple things, players that can play on all three downs, whether it be offense or defense, and players that can play on fourth down in the kicking game who still have an offensive or defensive role. It makes you a stronger team and it makes you a better team,” Belichick stated.

He wasn’t talking about Burkhead specifically, however he might have been.

On Sunday in Denver, Burkhead scored the Patriots’ first landing on a 14-yard reception on a crossing route wherein he simply separated himself from Denver security Darian Stewart.In the second quarter, he burst via a row of Broncos to dam a punt. His 36 snaps (out of 70) had been a season excessive.

“Whatever phase it is and whatever way the coaches want me to contribute, I’m always going to give it my best,” Burkhead stated.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

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