With Burkhead headed to IR and Jeremy Hill already there, Michel has a clear path to the Patriots' early down work, while James White remains on hand to serve primarily in a change-of-pace/pass-catching role. In the wake of Burkhead's injury, the team bolstered its running-back group by re-signing Kenjon Barner, but at 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, he's not ideally suited for punishment between the tackles. It's possible that the Patriots could kick the tires on other free-agent running backs, but through attrition, Michel now has an opportunity to really get things in gear, beginning with Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Michel is only averaging 3.5 yards over his first 24 NFL carries, but the 2018 first-round pick profiles as a shifty and high-motor runner, with the playmaking upside to make a fantasy splash going forward.
Patriots' Sony Michel: Likely in store for leading role
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