Patriots’ running back depth will be tested once again
November 29th, 2022
The Patriots had to play most of Thursday’s game without running back Damien Harris, who left the game early with a thigh injury. Now, it looks like that injury could carry over into the next game and potentially further.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Harris is not expected to play for the Patriots Thursday night against the Bills. Rapoport also added that Harris “is considered week-to-week going forward, an indication he’ll miss some time.”
Harris has already missed two games this year with different injuries. He didn’t play in Week 6 due to a hamstring injury, and an illness had him inactive in Week 9. He’s played hurt in a number of other games, and has been limited to playing just 25.1 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps this season. In that time, he’s carried the ball 84 times for 383 yards and three touchdowns.
With Harris coming in and out of the lineup, Rhamondre Stevenson’s usage has skyrocketed. He’s currently on pace for the most involved role a Patriots running back has had in the last 10 years, and by a wide margin. The 2021 fourth-round pick has played 68.4 percent of the team’s offensive snaps to this point in the season. If he finished the season at that mark, it would be 15 points higher than the running back with the next closest usage – James White in 2018 (53.6 percent).
Stevenson has made the most of those opportunities. He has 151 carries for 680 yards and four touchdowns this season, and is also the Patriots’ leading receiver with 50 catches for 359 yards and another score.
So far the Patriots have been hesitant to go beyond the top two spots on their depth chart at running back. Rookies Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong have both been healthy scratches at times, and veteran J.J. Taylor was recently waived and moved to the practice squad.
Without Harris available for the foreseeable future, will that trend change? Or will they put even more on Stevenson’s plate as the season winds down? For an offense that has been run-heavy, the running back usage will be something to focus on the next couple of weeks.
Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.