Running back Sony Michel is expected to return for the New England Patriots after missing seven games with a quad injury. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

It’s been a long time since Patriots running back Sony Michel saw game action.

That drought should end Sunday, according to Pats Coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick said Friday morning he thinks Michel will be ready to go for this weekend’s home game against the Cardinals. Michel has been sidelined for seven straight games due to a hurt quad – which put him on injured reserve on Oct. 5 – and an ensuing bout with COVID-19. The former first-round pick has been practicing for three weeks now and was activated off IR last Saturday.

Michel’s return is timely for the Patriots, who lost veteran running back Rex Burkhead to a knee injury in their recent road loss to the Texans. While Michel is unlikely to unseat Damien Harris as the team’s No. 1 back, he should receive part-time carries, as Burkhead did. Michel averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per rush to start the season, then burst out in his last game, a 117-yard rushing performance against the Raiders in Week 3.

How the Pats divide Burkhead’s workload on passing downs remains to be seen. Undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor is another option in the backfield

THE PATRIOTS might be without their starting left tackle on Sunday.

Isaiah Wynn missed his third straight practice, putting his status for the Cardinals game in doubt. The 2018 first-rounder was hobbled by an ankle injury in last weekend’s loss to the Texans and needed to leave the game. Just last Friday, Joe Thuney was singing Wynn’s praises.

“Isaiah is always such a hard worker,” Thuney said. “He’s a great guy to be around. Infectious attitude. He’s always positive, upbeat. Really smart player. Works really hard. So it’s been awesome playing next to him.”

If Wynn can’t go, Jermaine Eluemunor seems a safe bet to slot into the lineup.

Eluemunor was starting at right tackle before he wound up on injured reserve. Michael Onwenu played so well in his absence that he kept the gig.

New England was also missing Carl Davis (concussion) and Byron Cowart (back). Kyle Dugger (toe), Matthew Slater (knee) and J.J. Taylor (quad) all returned after sitting out Thursday’s practice. Despite the Thanksgiving holiday, Belichick said the team’s routine didn’t change much.

“It was a pretty normal Thursday for us,” Belichick said. “We moved things up a little bit. We got a little bit ahead on some things on Wednesday afternoon and then moved Thursday up a little bit and had pretty much of a normal Thursday. We trimmed a little bit of the fat off of practice to finish a little bit earlier, and then today will be a little bit of a longer catch up day on Friday than a normal Friday, so kind of a combination of things there. But, for the most part, it was a pretty normal Thursday with things moved up a little bit.”

Friday’s soundtrack was a fun one. With rivalry games scheduled for this weekend, the Patriots played college fight songs as they warmed up.

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