Patriots: 3 players poised for breakout seasons in 2020

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Patriots RB Damien Harris (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Patriots RB Damien Harris (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

3. Damien Harris

Damien Harris is facing a year in which he can step up in the Patriots backfield.

After being selected in the third round of last year’s draft, Damien Harris only appeared in two games and was essentially a healthy scratch during his rookie season last year, though he did deal with a hamstring issue early on.

I’ve been on record saying (and was under the assumption) that Harris was going to be used as a dynamic one-two punch with Sony Michel and complement the ground game in a dual-running back committee that we so often see in today’s NFL, but that unfortunately didn’t happen in 2019.

Fast forward one year later, and it’s been reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss that Harris is the best running back during practice thus far and could very well become the starter by Week 1 — which I believe could happen regardless of the status of Michel and his recovery from offseason foot surgery.

Harris is poised to be a bruiser and downhill runner and appears to be a great blend of both James White as a pass catcher and Michel as power running back. Based on his resume, Harris is built to be a three-down player and can handle the responsibilities that come with being a running back for the Patriots.

During his college career at Alabama, Harris carried the ball at least 135 times in three straight seasons from 2016-2018, recording 3,070 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also racked up 52 receptions for 407 yards and two touchdowns.

And we like what Thuney has to say about the young back.