The New England Patriots could be facing an RB shortage in Week 10 as both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson remained on the injury report Thursday. What is the latest injury update on both Harris and Stevenson, what do we know about their status for Sunday, and who could be in line for extra playing time if they are absent?

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson remain on the Patriots’ injury report

It’s always tricky when players are in the concussion protocol during a game week, which is the case for both Harris and Stevenson. There have been limited updates on their respective statuses — with a concussion, there is nothing to update until they clear the protocol.

Last week, we saw Sam Darnold miss practice for the Panthers while in the concussion protocol before being cleared on Saturday. That could be the case for both Harris and Stevenson this week. They are not listed as having any other injury. If they clear the protocol, they will likely be on the field Sunday.

On Friday, Bill Belichick discussed the potential that both would warm-up ahead of practice. However, neither back was seen on the field during the open portion of practice. There is still a chance for them to be cleared Saturday ahead of the game Sunday.

If Harris and Stevenson are absent, the Patriots could find themselves short-handed in Week 10

Interestingly, the Patriots do not have an RB on their practice squad as of Friday morning. Therefore, unless they look to add someone as an emergency addition this week, they could be facing going into their game against the Browns with limited options.

The Patriots have five players listed at the RB position on their depth chart. However, one of those options — Jakob Johnson — is technically a fullback. Johnson does not have a single rushing attempt in his career. If Harris and Stevenson remain in the protocol Friday, it would seem likely the Patriots will consider whether to add another back to their roster for Sunday.

Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor could be the lead backs for the Patriots in Week 10

If Harris and Stevenson cannot play Sunday, the Patriots could be down to Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor. However, the pair has just 35 combined rushing attempts this season. Bolden has been effective this year, averaging 4.8 yards per rush attempt while posting 189 receiving yards on 22 receptions. Taylor has struggled with just 26 rush yards on 13 carries and 8 receiving yards on 4 targets.

Neither of those two is a traditional lead back. It will be intriguing to see how the Patriots handle their RB situation. Johnson could be utilized in short-yardage situations, and New England could turn to TE Jonnu Smith for some carries.

Smith has carried the ball just 4 times this season and 10 times in his career. He has typically received those carries on gadget plays as opposed to as a true running back. However, New England has never been afraid to get funky with their RB position. They were the first team to utilize Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back, giving him 42 carries in 2018 when they were short-handed.

If Harris and Stevenson are both absent, it will be fascinating to see what the Patriots do this week. New England has used the run game to keep the pressure off of Mac Jones under center. Against a solid Browns run defense, this would be a bad week to be short-handed in the backfield.



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