Patriots RB Damien Harris dominated on Monday night and it flew under the radar for a number of reasons.
All it took was one start for Damien Harris to prove he’s RB1 material. With Sony Michel out on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots tossed the second-year stud out of Alabama into the starting role and he delivered.
Harris rushed 17 times for 100 yards with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham under center, which is significant when you consider how terrible they both were for the entirety of the game. What’s even crazier? Harris has the same amount of 100-yard games as Michel does dating back to the 2018 postseason.
Michel scored two 100-yard performances en route to the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the Rams but has managed just one since then — two weeks ago against the Las Vegas Raiders.
If that doesn’t prove Harris is already gunning for the starting role, we don’t know what does. That kind of success with backup QBs allowing the defense to better focus on the run in addition to splitting carries with Rex Burkhead and James White, both of whom added a combined 14 rushes, is considerable. Plus Harris only played 31% of the offensive snaps.
He was running hard, hitting holes quickly, and very much looked more explosive than Michel, which explains why the coaching staff was so high on him during training camp before he was sidelined and placed on injured reserve with that finger injury.
Though the Patriots’ offensive line has been performing admirably this year, Harris was able to put up these numbers with rookie Michael Onwenu and Jermaine Eluemunor starting at left guard and right tackle. Michel had his best game in over a year against the Raiders, but he’s used to turnaround along the OL and he still had Newton under center to throw off the defense. Harris hit the ground running with a shuffled version of the Patriots front five very much not at full strength as well as two very bad QBs running the show for New England. That has to count for something.
Long story short, Harris’ stock is rising fast, and Michel will continue to have to prove himself in a big way in order to keep the starting RB job.