New England Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel’s NFL career got off to a bad start as he suffered a knee injury in training camp. It was earlier reported that Michel’s knee injury was not serious, but based on the latest information, he is expected to miss the entire preseason and the start of the regular season. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Michel left practice on Wednesday (August 1) due to his knee issue. Then, Michel skipped the Patriots next three sessions.

Howe earlier reported that Michel was having a minor knee issue, per his source.

However, Howe updated his report, saying the running back needs to undergo a procedure that will keep him out of the Patriots' preseason and several regular season games, per sources close to the team.

Michel underwent procedure on knee

Mike Reiss of ESPN provided a clearer picture of Michel’s injury, saying the running back underwent the procedure to drain fluid from his knee after leaving Wednesday's practice following a running play. Reiss added that persons close to Michel are not concerned about his availability for the regular season. The Patriots’ 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Michel is expected to fill the void left by Dion Lewis, who signed a four-year, $19.8 million deal with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent.

In his four years at Georgia, Michel ran the ball 590 times for 3,613 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also showed his catching ability, receiving 64 passes for 621 yards and six touchdowns in his four years with Georgia. However, Michel’s health is questionable since he suffered several injuries during college, including a knee injury that ended his sophomore season.

Patriots will rely on veteran rushers

While waiting for Michel’s return, the Patriots will rely on veteran Rex Burkhead as their No.1 rusher, with James White playing as third-down back. Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden and Ralph Webb are fighting it out for spots in the 53-man roster. There’s a possibility that both Gillislee, Bolden, and Hill could make the regular-season roster if the Patriots place Michel on injured reserve, where he could make his return midway through the season.

The Patriots might choose between Hill or Gillislee when the time comes. Hill has been receiving significant practice reps during training camp while Gillislee was playing with the Patriots’ third-team offense with quarterback Danny Etling, who recently signed with the team.

However, it would be wise for the Patriots to keep five running backs in their roster, due to the uncertainty of Michel’s knees. Also, Burkhead has suffered several injuries in the past.