FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have downgraded No. 1 running back Damien Harris to out for Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts because of a hamstring injury, which will thrust rookie Rhamondre Stevenson into the top role.
Harris had been listed as questionable with the injury, and was limited in practice all week.
He was hurt in the team’s Week 13 win over the Buffalo Bills, but despite being on bye last week, Harris’ hamstring hasn’t healed enough for him to play Saturday.
Harris ran for 111 yards and one touchdown on just 10 carries in the win over the Bills. On the season, he leads the team with 754 yards on 164 carries (4.6 yards per carry), with nine touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 226-pound Stevenson, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, has rushed for 429 yards on 100 carries, with three touchdowns this season.
He had a rocky start to the season, fumbling and missing a blitz pickup in a season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, which led to his benching for three games. He returned for two games before he was a healthy scratch in a win over the New York Jets on Oct. 24.
Since that point, he’s played in six straight games and combined with Harris to form a potent one-two punch.
“His attitude, and the way the kid handles himself, has grown tremendously,” running backs coach Ivan Fears said earlier this week. “You got to love the way the kid has sort of adapted to who we are, and what we need from him. He’s taken all the criticism in the world, and has gotten better. A lot better. I think if he continues that, he’s going to be something special.”
Stevenson projects to pair with veteran Brandon Bolden on Saturday night against the Colts. The team likely would have turned to second-year running back J.J. Taylor for depth, but Taylor remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
As a result, the Patriots might consider promoting former Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo from the practice squad.