BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick drafted Damien Harris out of Alabama with the 87th overall pick in the draft last year … but then mostly kept the running back in mothballs. Yet in year two, Harris seemed poised to become a valuable contributor on offense.
That may still end up being the case, but the effort is off to a rocky start.
Harris, 23, is dealing with a hand injury, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. The report noted that Harris has missed two straight practices and that Harris’ status for the Patriots’ season opener — which will be played in Foxboro next weekend — is in question.
Harris suited up for just two games last year, rushing four times for a total of 12 yards. That came after a highly productive collegiate career at Alabama, where he rushed for over 3,000 yards with 23 touchdowns on 477 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per rush. Harris also caught 52 passes for 407 yards and two touchdowns in college.
The Patriots reportedly pursued free agent Leonard Fournette this week, but Fournette’s choice of going to Tampa Bay further opened the door for Harris to carve out a role in 2020.
The Patriots’ running back depth chart includes Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Lamar Miller and undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor.