Fumbling issues and offensive line woes have prevented Damien Harris from truly running wild this season, but the third-year back remains in high regard among his teammates and coaches.
Harris is coming off his best performance of the campaign, an 18-rush, 101-yard outing with one touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Most importantly, Harris held onto the ball while once again showing the toughness and talent that make him such an intriguing player.
“He has a ton of respect from every player and coach in this organization, as he should, because he’s earned that,” Belichick said. “That’s not something you get from talking or some kind of a false image. You get it from day-after-day, consistent performance and dedication, and he’s the poster boy for that. He works extremely hard and takes his job very seriously and always tries to perform at the absolute highest level and do what’s best for the team.
“So he has everybody’s — he’s earned everybody’s respect for that. That’s not anything that’s given. He’s put in the blood, the sweat and he’s earned it.”
Harris doesn’t necessarily provide the kinds of plays that make fantasy owners salivate. His career-long rush is a 41-yard scamper from last season. Instead, Harris makes his way onto highlight reels with tough, bruising runs that feature multiple broken tackles.
For Belichick, however, it’s not the length of the run that matters when evaluating Harris.
“Every play is not an 80-yard touchdown,” he said. “Some of the best runs he’ll have are going to be 5=yard gains, but that’s getting the most out of the play. Maybe it was a play that was blocked for one that he gets five out of. So I think that’s what every player needs to do, Damien has done a good job of that.”
Harris enters Week 7 with 331 yards and three touchdowns on 81 rushes. He’s added 53 receiving yards on eight catches.
The Patriots will host the New York Jets on Sunday.