New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots looks on before a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

According to a new report by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Patriots second-year running back Damien Harris is dealing with a hand injury “that could threaten his availability for the season opener.” The Patriots are scheduled to play the Miami Dolphins in the first game of the 2020 regular season on Sunday, Sept. 13.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Thursday that Harris recently underwent surgery on his pinky finger and may need “a few weeks to heal.” Harris has been absent for the past two Patriots practices.

It’s a tough break for the sophomore back out of Alabama, who by all accounts had a tremendous training camp. Harris appeared to be primed for a major role in the 2020 version of the Patriots offense.

Damien Harris is likely to miss at least one game for the Patriots with a hand injury. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Damien Harris is likely to miss at least one game for the Patriots with a hand injury. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“Damien [Harris] is the only [Patriots back] who really hasn’t had the chance to prove what he is on the football field as far as game play goes,” running backs coach Ivan Fears said recently. “But from what we’ve seen, and the training camp he’s had, I tell you what, he’s pretty exciting.”

MORE: Patriots Activate Lamar Miller Off PUP

Third-year back Sony Michel recently returned to practice for the Patriots, as did veteran free-agent signing Lamar Miller, who was activated off the PUP list. James White and Rex Burkhead remain on the depth chart, while undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor has an outside shot at the 53-man roster and a good chance to make the practice squad if he cleared waivers.

If the Patriots decide they have to place Harris on injured reserve with a designation to return, he would have to miss the first eight weeks of the regular season. If he starts the season on PUP, he can’t play or practice for the first six weeks.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.