The Patriots figure to ease Sony Michel, their No. 1 back from 2018 and 2019, into the mix after his offseason foot surgery. Michel returned to practice just two weeks ago.
Initial plans had Damien Harris as part of that RB rotation, as the 2019 third-round draft pick from Alabama caught the eye of running backs coach Ivan Fears, who had said, "From what we've seen, and the training camp he's had, he's pretty exciting."
Michel said Sunday that his previously injured foot has responded well. Michel is the team's main banger between the tackles and the story added Taylor, who also returns punts, has drawn comparisons to former Patriots running back Dion Lewis. White is probably still the back to own in this offense, especially in PPR leagues.
The Patriots signed Taylor from their practice squad to take the place of Harris. Harris will have to miss at least three games per the new IR rule. The tweet went on to say Taylor had a great camp. He'll likely remain behind Michel, White and Burkhead.
Sony Michel had foot surgery in the offseason and said on Sunday that he likes “where I’m at and I am headed in the right direction” with Week One’s game against the Dolphins on the horizon.
“I would say I am in the best position possible right now to be able to go into Game One and be able to perform as best as I can,” Michel said, via WEEI.com. “The coaching staff, the training staff has done a great job preparing me for this opportunity. All I can do is go out there and give it all I have.”
Michel’s absence from practice gave Harris a chance to make his case for playing time this summer, but Harris had surgery on his pinky and may not be ready to go. That would leave Michel, White and Burkhead to carry the backfield load with Michel likely to resume the leading role he’s filled for the last two seasons, the story said. White still seems like the back to own, especially in PPR leagues, but signs are starting to point to Michel being able to go Week 1 and is worth picking up.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic called Patriots RB Damien Harris the 'breakout star' of camp in his 'Risers and Fallers' column. "Harris has undeniably been the team’s best back through 10 practices," wrote Howe. "The Pats won’t ever go away from James White and Rex Burkhead, but this stretch could be enough to warrant a sizable chunk of playing time."
Harris' turnaround from his rookie season is staggering and welcomed. The Patriots' backfield is still muddled, but Harris could be the back in between the tackles and work his way into passing downs. His pass protection has improved according to Howe, so Harris' ceiling is higher than originally projected.