Rex Burkhead (neck) returns to practice for Patriots on Thursday

Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN: New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN: New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Finally, some good news on the injury front for the Patriots' running back group.

Rex Burkhead returned to practice on Thursday in Foxborough, indicating that he's coming off injured reserve and close to returning this season. He's been out since Week 3 with a neck injury, and was playing through a knee injury before that.

Per IR rules, Burkhead won't be eligible to play until Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots can designate two players on IR to return; they've already used their other on rookie cornerback Duke Dawson. That means that everyone else on IR, including cornerback Eric Rowe and rookie linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, won't be eligible to return this season.

Elsewhere on the running back depth chart, Sony Michel (knee) is also trending in the right direction. He's on track to return on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has performed admirably in two weeks as the Patriots' lead back, but this is another indication that the experiment will be over sooner rather than later.

Note: This post was updated to correct Burkhead's injury information. He was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, with a knee injury occurring prior to that.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].