Patriots-Chiefs Inactive List Reaction: Damien Harris; Receiver Shakeup

Damien Harris and Gunner Olszewski will make their 2020 season debuts

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The New England Patriots have the unenviable task of taking on the NFL’s best team, the Kansas City Chiefs, without star quarterback Cam Newton on Monday night.

Newton tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and will be replaced at quarterback by Brian Hoyer. The Patriots also will be without starting right guard Shaq Mason, who is inactive with a calf injury.

On the bright side, Patriots fans (and fantasy owners) finally will get to see running back Damien Harris and wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, both of whom were activated from injured reserve Monday, make their season debuts.

Patriots running back Sony Michel already had been ruled out and was placed on injured reserve Monday. That makes Harris the lead candidate for the Patriots’ bell-cow running back role, though he will be sharing snaps with James White, Damien Harris and rookie J.J. Taylor. Harris was a third-round pick in 2019 but received just three carries while playing behind Michel, Burkhead, White and Brandon Bolden as a rookie.

Harris looked like the Patriots’ best running back in training camp before suffering a hand injury.

Olszewski should be the Patriots’ top punt returner, and he could get some work in on offense as he competes for reps with Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd and Isaiah Zuber (a COVID-19 replacement for Newton).

Here’s the Patriots’ inactive list:

TE Dalton Keene
RG Shaq Mason (calf)
CB Myles Bryant
WR Jakobi Meyers

— Keene has yet to make his NFL debut. Ryan Izzo, rookie Devin Asiasi and fullback Jakob Johnson will continue to be used in his place.

— The Patriots will need to reshuffle their offensive line with Mason out. They already had to restructure the line last week after placing center David Andrews on injured reserve.

Their options:

LT Isaiah Wynn
LG Mike Onwenu
C Joe Thuney
RG Hjalte Froholdt
RT Jermaine Eluemnor

LT Isaiah Wynn
LG Mike Onwenu
C Joe Thuney
RG James Ferentz
RT Jermaine Eluemnor

LT Wynn
LG Onwenu
C Thuney
RG Herron
RT Eluemunor

LT Wynn
LG Thuney
C Froholdt
RG Onwenu
RT Eluemunor

LT Wynn
LG Thuney
C Ferentz
RG Onwenu
RT Eluemunor

One of the first three options is most likely since there would be carryover from last week when Thuney filled in for Andrews and Onwenu slid from right tackle to left guard to fill Thuney’s place.

The Patriots basically would have to blow everything up to go with the fourth or fifth options.

Froholdt and Herron have never started an NFL game.

— Bryant also hasn’t played since being signed from the practice squad.

— Meyers has been passed, for now, on the depth chart by Edelman, Harry, Byrd, Zuber and Olszewski. Not a great sign for the second-year pro who had a nice rookie campaign but hasn’t made an impact in 2020.

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