The New England Patriots will be missing one half of their two-headed running back attack this week against the Buffalo Bills. According to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Damien Harris is not expected to play on Thursday night because of a thigh injury.
Harris is reportedly considered week-to-week due to the ailment, an apparent “indication he’ll miss some time” beyond the game versus Buffalo.
Harris, 25, suffered the injury during last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Following a carry for no gain, the fourth-year man limped off the field and was later announced as questionable to return. He was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the contest, and has not participated in the Patriots’ first two practices leading up to the Bills game.
His absence will naturally put pressure on the rest of New England’s running back depth chart.
The team has Rhamondre Stevenson on the roster as its No. 1 option at the position. The sophomore is leading the team in every major run-game category, and is also first in total touches (201), yards from scrimmage (1,039) and touchdowns (5). The expectation is that his role will only grow with Harris out.
Behind him, the team lacks experience. Rookies Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris have only seen irregular playing time on offense this year, while third-year man J.J. Taylor is on the practice squad; he is a realistic candidate to be elevated to the game-day squad versus Buffalo.
As for Harris, this latest injury adds another chapter to what has so far been a challenging season. Being in the middle of a contract year, he already missed time because of a hamstring injury and an illness.
In total, the former third-round draft pick has played in nine games and touched the ball 97 times for 458 yards and three scores.