Damien Harris was worth the wait for Patriots fans who have been looking forward to seeing what the running back could offer New England’s offense since being selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Harris carried the ball 17 times for 100 yards in the Patriots’ 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that actually was closer than that score appeared. It was Harris’ first game of the season after being activated off of injured reserve Monday and his first NFL start.
The Alabama product only carried the ball three times for 12 yards last season as he couldn’t climb over Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White and Brandon Bolden in a crowded but struggling running back depth chart last season. He entered training camp this summer as the Patriots’ top running back but injured his hand and started the season on IR.
So, it was a long time coming for Harris to finally see the field for a substantial number of snaps.
“There’s definitely a lot of emotions coming out of that game,” Harris said. “You know, first and foremost, we didn’t win the game and that’s what’s most important. We didn’t play well enough, so that was disappointing. There’s a lot of things to work on and to improve on.
“But it was it was excited getting back out there with the guys. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m looking forward to playing with this group of guys on this team for a long time now. So, just being able to be out there with those guys that work so hard day in and day out, especially the offensive line. It was truly an honor to be out there with those guys. The O-line, they blocked and blocked their butts off today. They opened up some holes and they made life a little easy for me today.”
Harris might not have received as many opportunities as he did if Michel didn’t get injured over the past week. Michel carried the ball nine times for 117 yards in last week’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but he was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury Monday. Timing was finally on Harris’ side in his first opportunity to take the field this season.
It was Harris’ first game with 17 or more touches since Nov. 3, 2018, when Alabama beat LSU.
“Definitely sore already, but that was expected,” Harris said. “This was my first real action in a long, long time. It was definitely great to get back out there. But now, it’s just about recovering and getting myself ready for our next challenge.”