Damien Harris sustained what initially appeared to be a serious chest injury during Monday night’s win over the New York Jets.
Not only did the injury turn out to be relatively minor, but the New England Patriots running back might not even miss a game.
Harris, who was a limited participant in all three Patriots practices this week, said Friday he is preparing himself to play Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
“To be honest, I’m not really here to talk about (the injury),” Harris said in a video conference. “It happened. It’s over with. I’ve been out here trying to get myself ready to play in this game, and that’s what I’m focusing on.
“We know we’re playing a good, physical team this week, and I’ve been just trying to do my part in getting myself as mentally ready, as physically ready to be able to play in this game and try to help us be successful and help us try to play our best game as an offense.”
Harris, who’s also dealt with an ankle injury over the last two weeks, has been excellent since returning from injured reserve since Week 4. In five games as New England’s lead back, he’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry (third-best among all players with 50-plus rushing attempts during that span) and has reached the 100-yard mark twice.
Before his injury Monday, which came on a booming hit by Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt, Harris carried the ball 14 times for a game-high 71 yards in a 30-27 Patriots victory.
“Damien has very good natural running instincts,” Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears said Friday. “Most of these guys do. The thing that he does for a guy his size, he runs hard, which is really, really nice. And I mean, he runs hard, and his vision is outstanding. He’s going to be a downhill runner. He hits you hard. He hits you fast. That’s the kind of stuff that makes them so attractive.”
Harris’s playing status for Sunday is not confirmed, and even if he is active, he could cede some touches to Sony Michel, who returned to practice last week and is eligible to be activated off IR.
Michel’s and Harris’s skill sets are somewhat redundant, however, so New England could opt to keep the former inactive if the latter is at full strength. Michel has missed five games with a quad injury and also spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
“He’s getting back,” Fears said of Michel. “He was down, illness-wise there for a little bit, too, so that really set him back. So we’ve got to get him back in shape. We’ve got to get him back in shape and get him going again. And he’s doing a great job. I mean, he’s really looking good in practice. He really is.”
The Patriots rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game, sixth in yards per carry and tied for second in rushing touchdowns.