Rex Burkhead dodged a bullet after leaving Sunday's victory in Pittsburgh with a knee injury.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday morning that an MRI revealed the New England Patriots running back suffered a sprained knee, along with a bruise from a player landing on it, but avoided tearing his ACL.
Rapoport added the team is optimistic their versatile weapon will be back for the playoffs.
The Swiss Army Knife running back has become the Patriots go-to goal-line running back. Burkhead has five rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores on the season. His six TDs in the last four games tied him with Todd Gurley for most in the NFL since Week 12.
The Patriots are deep at the running back position. Burkhead's absence will mean more snaps for Dion Lewis and James White. Mike Gillislee is also likely to return to the lineup as a goal-line option after being inactive the past six weeks.
Elsewhere in injury news on Monday:
1. Steelers receiver Antonio Brown suffered a partially torn calf in Pittsburgh's loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, Rapoport reported. The injury will not require surgery, preserving hope that Brown can return for the postseason.
Rookie teammate James Conner likely will need to undergo knee surgery, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. He would be out for at least a few weeks if he has surgery.
2. Oakland Raiders left tackle Donald Penn will miss the final two games of the 2017 season as he is set to undergo foot surgery on Thursday. Penn has not missed a regular season game in his career, though he did miss Oakland's playoff loss to the Texans last season because of a knee injury.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard suffered an ankle injury during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons and didn't return. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson suffered an ankle injury and guard J.R. Sweezy exited early with an injured lower leg. Cornerback Ryan Smith and safety T.J. Ward left early to be evaluated for concussions. Safety Justin Evans suffered an ankle injury and didn't return.
Buccaneers linebacker Adarius Glanton was carted off with his leg in an aircast after colliding with a teammate during the third quarter. Defensive end Robert Ayers suffered a stinger in the second half.
4. Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn announced that tight end Hunter Henry has a small laceration on his kidney, and his status is up in the air. He sustained the injury when he was hit by Chiefs defensive tackle Bennie Logan, Rapoport reported. Logan was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
There's a chance running back Austin Ekeler could still play with a broken hand and wide receiver Keenan Allen (back) should be fine, Lynn added. Linebacker Denzel Perryman (hamstring) and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (knee) both will not play this weekend.
5. If Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (ankle) is healthy, don't be surprised if he takes over the last two games, Rapoport reported, per a source informed. The team brass wants to evaluate the QB postion before the end of the season, Rapoport added.
6. Good news for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee, who went down with an ankle injury during Sunday's win over the Texans. Rapoport reports that Lee's MRI came back positive and he is expected to be back for the playoffs, and perhaps even sooner as Jacksonville looks to lock up that AFC South.
7. Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman has officially cleared concussion protocol.
9. New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams is in concussion protocol after exiting Sunday's loss to New Orleans.
10. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (knee) and defensive tackle Carl Davis are not believed to have season-ending injuries and could return as early as this week. Both went down with injuries during Sunday's win over the Browns.