After making the initial 53-man roster, the New England Patriots placed running back Damien Harris on the short-term injured reserve. The second-year running back reportedly underwent surgery for a broken pinky finger and will be sidelined for approximately one month. In a corresponding move, the team signed undrafted free agent J.J. Taylor to the active roster
The Patriots have signed RB J.J. Taylor from their practice squad and placed Damien Harris on IR, per source. Harris will miss at least 3 games. Taylor had a great camp.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 7, 2020
New England Patriots Place Damien Harris on Injured Reserve
Harris, a 2019 third-round pick out of Alabama, reportedly had a great camp prior to his injury. Unfortunately, this injury means that he won’t be on the football field for at least the first three weeks of the season. Thanks to COVID-19, the NFL installed a new injured reserve rule which states that players can return after three weeks on the sideline. Additionally, there is no limit to how many players can come back from the short-term injured reserve.
With Harris sidelined, the Patriots will turn early-down work over to Sony Michel. Michel, a first-round pick in 2018, started the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list but started practicing a week back. According to reports out of camp, the running back looked fast and fresh.
Rex Burkhead will eat into some of the carries, but Michel should earn the vast majority of early-down touches. Last year, Michel led the team with 247 carries for 912 yards and seven touchdowns. Burkhead, by comparison, received just 65 carries for 302 yards and three touchdowns. Damien Harris held down the rear with four carries for 12 yards.
Michel had an underwhelming 2019, but there is reason to believe he can turn it around in 2020. The running back proved that he can be productive with great blocking, as Michel averaged 4.5 yards-per-carry behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines in 2018. In 2020, the Patriots should have the same interior trio of David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Joe Thuney. Additionally, Michel averaged over four yards-per-carry in five of New England’s final six games last year.
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