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Patriots vs Jets injury analysis: Damien Harris’ departure puts pressure on New England’s running back depth

Related: Patriots vs Jets snap counts: Chase Winovich plays a big role on defense and special teams

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ last-second win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football improved the team’s record to 3-5 on the season, and that’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things. The performance itself was far from a perfect one by the team, however, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Another issue is that the Patriots did not make it out of MetLife Stadium entirely unscathed.

Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injuries from their 30-27 victory against the Jets.

Injury analysis

OT Isaiah Wynn: The Patriots’ left tackle entered the weekend listed as questionable because of an ankle ailment, and in the early second quarter had to leave the game due to another issue related to his ankle. While he did not suffer an obvious injury on the play before his departure — a 3-yard run by Rex Burkhead — Wynn walked off the field and was later announced as being questionable to return. Return the former first-round pick did, however: he was back later that same quarter after sitting out eight offensive snaps and finished the game as part of the starting offensive line.

RB Damien Harris: Harris also entered the game being listed on the Patriots’ injury report — like Wynn, he was labeled as questionable because of an ankle issue — but he did not show any obvious signs of being less than 100 percent. He was still not able to finish the game, however, albeit for a different reason: Harris was hit hard on a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter (one that was later brought back because of an offensive penalty), and remained on the ground after the play. Harris gingerly walked off under his own power and eventually left for the locker room. He was later tagged as questionable to return with a chest injury, but did not return to the game.

WR Matthew Slater: On the kickoff after the Patriots had tied the game at 27 late in the fourth quarter, Slater did what he always does: he was right in the middle of the action, covering the return. During his tackle against Jest returner and ex-Patriot Braxton Berrios, however, he appeared to be shaken up a bit. Nevertheless, the team captain was right back on the field when New York was forced to punt the football away four plays later.

What this means for the Patriots

While both Isaiah Wynn and Matthew Slater are integral to the Patriots’ operations on offense and special teams and will therefore be kept a close eye on in the coming days, their injuries appeared to be comparatively minor. The same cannot yet be said about Damien Harris hurting his chest: the former third-round draft pick took a noticeable shot, and was unable to finish the game.

While that could very well have been a precautionary measure more than anything else, the collision in combination the fact that Harris is New England’s primary early-down back makes for a noteworthy situation — one that puts pressure on a Patriots’ running back depth chart that is still missing Sony Michel (quad) and also was without J.J. Taylor on Monday (illness).

Michel did return to practice last week and can be activated from injured reserve to the 53-man roster at any point, but he has not appeared in a game since Week 3 and might need some more time to get up to speed. Harris has looked very good filling in for the former first-round draft pick, meanwhile, and has made a very strong case for himself as the Patriots’ top early-down option regardless of Michel’s status. His chest injury, however, could change this and in turn weaken New England’s ground game as a whole.

Of course, that is all just speculation at this point in time. All we know is that Harris left Monday’s game after injuring his chest, and that the team’s first injury report of the week will add further context once released on Wednesday.