Patriots

Damien Harris not worried about limited opportunities thus far

Damien Harris not worried about limited opportunities thus far

The Patriots are taking on the Browns at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports Boston for Patriots Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. ET, then Postgame Live immediately after the Week 8 matchup.

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The New England Patriots have one of the deeper running back rooms in the NFL at the moment. With Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Brandon Bolden all on board, the team has a number of ways that they can attack defenses. And so far this season, they have used a committee approach to maximize their values.

However, one player that hasn't factored into the mix as much as some thought is Damien Harris. A third-round rookie out of Alabama, Harris has only been active once for the Patriots. That came in Week 7 against the New York Jets.  Though the game was a blowout, Harris didn't get his first carry until the latter stages of the fourth quarter and overall, he had four carries for 12 yards.

But still, Harris' limited opportunities haven't bothered him so far.

"All I worry about every single day is improving as a player and doing whatever this team needs me to do," Harris said per Nicole Yang of The Boston Globe. "If my name or number ever gets called, I try to be as ready as I can. As far as worrying about, ‘Am I going to play or am I not going to play?’, this, that, those are things I don’t have time to worry about."

It certainly sounds like Harris is buying into the Patriots system. And it's not entirely a surprise either. After all, Harris was used as part of a tandem at Alabama. He and first-round pick Josh Jacobs effectively split carries in their final season together. 

And as Harris stated, adjusting to the NFL has taken some time, which partially explains his limited opportunities.

"This is a professional league," Harris said. "Everything is harder. Learning is harder, the people you’re going against is harder. There’s a lot more challenges, but you just have to continue to improve every single day."

If Harris can continue to improve, more opportunities may arise for him in the Patriots run offense. Burkhead hasn't played at all since Week 4 with a toe injury. Michel has served as the team's lead back this year, but he is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry and hasn't been much of a factor in the passing game.

Should these issues persist, Harris should continue to be active and could see some more carries. And right now, it seems like he has the right attitude as he waits for his first big chance to prove himself.

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Report: Julian Edelman, Ted Karras make trip with Patriots, Cowart out for Bengals game

Report: Julian Edelman, Ted Karras make trip with Patriots, Cowart out for Bengals game

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and center Ted Karras, who were each listed as questionable with injuries, made the trip to Cincinnati with the team Saturday but backup defensive tackle Byron Cowart was downgraded to out with a concussion, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Edelman, the team's leading receiver, has been battling shoulder and ankle injuries. Karras, the starting center, missed the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday with a knee injury. Both were limited in practice this week. 

The Patriots (10-3), coming off back-to-back losses to the Houston Texans and Chiefs, play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Patriots-Bengals Preview from Tom E. Curran: No cinch in Cincy

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AP Images

Patriots-Bengals Preview from Tom E. Curran: No cinch in Cincy

Here we have two teams at opposite ends of the food chain. The 10-3 Patriots and the 1-12 Bengals. Unfortunately, they have one thing in common. Neither one scores much. The Bengals high for the season is 23 points and that was in Week 4. They’ve only scored more than 20 points twice. 

The Patriots have scored fewer than three offensive touchdowns in five out of six games and the lone game they scored three – in Houston – two came in the very late stages after falling behind 21-3. So this game has the potential to look like a Patriots-Bengals from the not-so-distant past. Not the “On to Cincinnati” game people remember from 2014, but the ugly slog in the rain a year earlier when the Patriots lost 13-6 at Cincy. 

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So many elements are the same now for the Patriots offense – limited talent at wideout and a lack of protection up front. 

Because of the Patriots' offensive struggles, what seemed for months like a simple walkover has the potential to be uncomfortably competitive.