Running back Rex Burkhead had an impressive Patriots preseason debut Saturday night, Tom Brady Jerseysgiving fans their first on-field look at the former Cincinnati Bengal who will be a big part of the team's plans. Thus, it's also timely to highlight a poignant personal connection that has continued to be a big part of Burkhead's life.

In 2011, when Burkhead was a junior at the University of Nebraska, Danny Amendola Jerseyshe was a personal favorite of Jack Hoffman, a 5-year-old who had brain cancer. Burkhead hosted Hoffman for lunch that year, gave him a tour of Memorial Stadium, and it was the start of a beautiful connection that is still growing today.

"I think in the meeting, they kind of hoped I would impact Jack and give him some strength. Hopefully I did. But I felt like he impacted my life as well," Burkhead said last week. "He gave me a new perspective on things I was going through, Dont'a Hightower Jerseysespecially my senior year when I hurt my knee. Just realizing it was nothing compared to what Jack is going through."

In 2013, Hoffman’s 69-yard touchdown run at Nebraska’s spring scrimmage went viral, earning him an ESPY.

Burkhead, 27, is on the board of directors of a foundation in Hoffman’s name, Julian Edelman Jerseysand he hosted a fundraiser this offseason for the first time at his high school alma mater in Plano, Texas, that he said raised about $45,000.

Meanwhile, in his short time with the Patriots, Burkhead and his wife, Danielle, LeGarrette Blount Jerseyshave become close friends with offensive tackle Nate Solder and his wife, Lexi. Their son Hudson was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015.

“He was the first teammate that reached out to me, him and Matt Slater. Nate invited me over, and we spent an afternoon after their house -- I brought my dog over so our dogs played. We were over there Easter Sunday, too,” Burkhead said, Rob Gronkowski Jerseysnoting that they haven’t talked much about their experiences with children and cancer. “They’re great people, been through a lot. He’s great to have as a teammate.”

2. Tom Brady has one of the shortest walks from the players' parking lot to the front door at Gillette Stadium, as the quarterback has once again been awarded a front-row parking spot. Those are generally reserved for offseason award-winners, which is another reflection of the 40-year-old’s continued commitment to his craft.

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