It might be time for fans to start worrying about Patriots RB Damien Harris’ excessive injury troubles.
Does anybody else feel awful for Damien Harris? It seems like each time the 2019 third-round pick finally begins to establish himself as the Patriots’ lead running back, he gets injured.
Let’s take it back to training camp, when he was receiving rave reviews from the coaching staff while Sony Michel was still recovering from offseason foot surgery.
Just as Harris was shaping up to be crowned the starter, Michel returned to practice and he was subsequently placed on injured reserve with a hand injury to start the year. As soon as he was activated, Michel conveniently landed on IR with a quad injury, which set the stage for the Alabama product to make the starting job his own.
Objectively speaking, Harris has performed exceptionally well since then, and the consensus opinion among fans is that he should maintain a prominent role even when Michel reenters the fold again.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old stud, however, he suffered a chest injury in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ comeback victory over the Jets on Monday night, putting his status for Week 10 in serious question. In light of this news, it might be time for fans in New England to start worrying about his alarming proneness to injury.
We hate to be pessimists, but this is simply the reality of things. Last season was essentially a redshirt year for Harris as he was labeled a healthy scratch on 13 occasions as a rookie, missing two other contests with a hamstring issue.
While it’s encouraging that the former Crimson Tide star has avoided major injuries, these multi-week absences are starting to add up and they have really deprived him of the opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that he should be the Patriots’ No. 1 RB moving forward.
As impressive as Harris has been — he’s taken 63 carries for 350 yards (5.6 YPC) and a touchdown in five games as the top dog — the jury is still out with regard to whether he can remain healthy for a full season. For those who missed it, here’s the play from Monday night where the promising second-year pro got banged up.
That’s such a strange-looking play (who hits like that?) and it speaks volumes to Harris’ ability as a runner that he bounced off that monster hit. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before ultimately being helped off the field by the Patriots’ medical team, and you have to think that he has an outside chance (at best) to suit up for Sunday night’s showdown against Baltimore.
By no means are we writing Harris off, because it’s clear he has the requisite skillset to be a starter in the NFL. However, his tendency to get injured cannot be ignored, and the Patriots’ coaching staff has every right to question if he’s the answer at the running back position for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Let’s hope that Harris overcomes these woes and comes to realize his largely untapped potential before New England grows fatigued of his inability to stay on the field.