Patriots rookie Sony Michel undergoes knee procedure

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The Patriots will have to dip into their backfield depth for the start of the preseason.

Rookie running back Sony Michel underwent a minor procedure to drain fluid from his knee, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday, via a source informed of the situation. The former Georgia star is expected to be back in time for the Week 1 clash with the Texans, Rapoport added.

Michel looked good in the early days of camp but has been sidelined since exiting Wednesday's practice with the injury.

After losing Dion Lewis to free agency, the Patriots bypassed the opportunity to address their defense early in the draft, using their first-round pick on a tailback for the first time since they selected Laurence Maroney out of Minnesota in 2006.

Although Michel's role is unsettled so early in camp, he's projected to be a key cog in the offensive attack as an impact rookie.

If New England's medical and coaching staffs handle him with kid gloves over the next few weeks, however, he's in danger of falling behind in a crowded depth chart that includes jack-of-all-trades Rex Burkhead, receiving specialist James White, power back Mike Gillislee and former Bengals second-round pick Jeremy Hill.

Popularizing the backfield-by-committee approach that has become a league-wide trend in recent years, the Patriots are built to survive if Michel encounters a setback in his recovery.

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