November 27, 2020 | 3:22 p.m.
Although he was activated from the injured reserve before last Sunday’s game, Patriots running back Sony Michel was a scratchy player against the Texans.
That shouldn’t be the case this week. Michel is expected to play when the Patriots host the Cardinals on Sunday.
“He’s had a good few weeks (in practice),” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Friday. “I think he will be ready to go.
Michel has missed the Patriots’ last seven games with an ATV injury. While on the injured reserve, Michel reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, but has since recovered.
Since his strong rookie season, Michel has struggled to be a better running back for the Patriots. In 2019, he ran for 912 yards with a somewhat impressive 3.7 yards per carry. In his first two games this season, Michel only racked up 56 yards on 17 carries (3.3 yards per carry). Michel showed promise the last time he was on the field, totaling 117 yards on just nine carries in the Patriots’ 36-20 win over the Raiders in Week 3.
Michel’s return also comes at a key moment for New England. Running back Rex Burkhead is finished for the season after sustaining a knee injury (which the team believes was an ACL tear) in last week’s loss to the Texans.
Second-year running back Damien Harris came out in Michel’s absence. Harris has racked up 514 yards in the Patriots’ last seven games, including three games where he rushed for more than 100 yards. Harris has led the way in the Patriots’ rushing game averaging 153.6 yards per game this season, the fourth-best in the NFL.
The Patriots’ generally strong ground play didn’t have much of an impact against the Texans last week. They rushed for just 86 yards on 24 carries (3.6 yards per carry) against a Texans who entered last week’s game with the worst running defense in the league. Burkhead left the game early in the third quarter, which may have changed the Patriots’ game plan.
In addition to Harris, Michel joins James White and JJ Taylor as other active running backs on the Patriots roster. With White primarily used as a receiver out of the backfield and with Taylor not playing since Week 3, it’s reasonable to think Michel could see the use Burkhead had before his injury.
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