Damien Harris

Patriots LS Joe Cardona Done For Year

One of New England’s longest-tenured players is done for the season. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports (via Twitter) that long snapper Joe Cardona has a torn tendon in his foot and won’t play again this season.

The 30-year-old suffered a partial tear in his foot earlier this month, but he still managed to play through the injury in Week 15. It’s uncertain if Cardona made the injury worse by playing, but either way, he won’t be back on the field until the 2023 campaign. Reiss notes that the veteran is expected to be fully recovered by the spring.

Cardona made a name for himself when he became the fourth long snapper in NFL history to be drafted, with the Patriots selecting the Navy product in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Cardona hasn’t missed a game since joining the organization, appearing in all of New England’s 127 regular season games and 13 playoff games over that stretch. During his time with New England, Cardona has earned a pair of Super Bowl rings. He was also named to the organization’s ‘All-Dynasty Team’ in 2020. Cardona inked a four-year extension with the Patriots in 2018 that is set to expire following this season.

Elsewhere on the injury front, receiver DeVante Parker and cornerback Jalen Mills will both be out again for the Patriots this weekend when they take on the Bengals. Running back Damien Harris, cornerback Jack Jones, and receivers Tyquan Thornton and Jakobi Meyers are all questionable for this weekend.

RB Notes: Jacobs, Patriots, Steelers, Hill

Coming off just the NFL’s 11th performance with 300 yards from scrimmage, Josh Jacobs is not expected to practice much this week. The Raiders running back suffered a calf strain during his monster outing against the Seahawks, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Planning to go through “around the clock” treatment, Jacobs said (via The Athletic’s Tashan Reed, on Twitter) he is not planning to miss any time.

Of course, that expectation will be tested. Calf strains can sideline players for multiple weeks. Jacobs handled a career-high 39 touches in Las Vegas’ overtime win in Seattle, finishing with 303 scrimmage yards. He now leads the league in rushing (1,159 yards) and is making a strong case for a second Raiders contract, despite the team having passed on his fifth-year option. The Alabama alum has stayed relatively healthy during his career, having never missed more than three games in a season. But missing time due to this calf ailment would give Jacobs at least one absence in each of his four seasons.

Here is the latest from the running back scene:

  • The Patriots are not expected to have Damien Harris available against the Bills on Thursday. Harris left the Pats’ Thanksgiving Day game with a thigh injury, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that issue will keep him out in Week 13 and potentially for more games. One of several starter-caliber backs set to hit free agency in March, Harris has battled multiple injuries this season and seen Rhamondre Stevenson emerge as New England’s primary back. This certainly points to the former third-round pick needing to find another team to dole out his second contract.
  • Najee Harris also left his team’s most recent game due to injury, seeing an abdominal issue force him to leave the Steelers‘ Monday-night win over the Colts. Harris avoided a major injury, however, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). It is not certain the second-year back plays Sunday, but after he battled a Lisfranc issue this offseason, dodging another notable injury represents a nice break. The Steelers were without rookie backup Jaylen Warren in Indianapolis due to a hamstring injury and used veteran Benny Snell as their top ball-carrier.
  • The Commanders worked out a familiar NFC East back this week, bringing in Jordan Howard. The well-traveled back stopped through Washington for a Tuesday workout, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. Former Panthers backup Reggie Bonnafon also took part in this audition. Howard spent time with the Saints this season, playing in two games, but New Orleans released the ex-Chicago and Philadelphia starter from its practice squad earlier this month.
  • Despite using one of their injury activations on Kylin Hill this year, the Packers cut bait recently. Matt LaFleur said conduct contributed to the transaction. “There are standards and expectations that are placed on every member of this team that we expect guys to live up to,” LaFleur said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “He’s a guy we had high expectations for, and [I] realize he’s in a loaded room, but regardless of your role big or small, we expect guys to come to work and be supportive and own that role to the best of your ability. If you don’t do that, that’s what happened.” This certainly points to the second-year back voicing dissatisfaction with being behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on Green Bay’s depth chart. No team claimed Hill, who is now a free agent.

Patriots Receiving Calls On RB Damien Harris, S Jabrill Peppers

With a 3-4 record and coming off an embarrassing Monday Night Football loss, it’s been speculated that the Patriots could start selling. While we’ve previously heard that receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne are on the block, it sounds like rival teams are sniffing around at some other players in New England.

According to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus (on Twitter), the Patriots have received calls on running back Damien Harris and safety Jabrill Peppers. However, the reporter is quick to clarify that the Patriots are not actively shopping the two players. Kyed also passes along that the team has also received calls on receivers Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker.

Harris is set to hit free agency following the season. The former third-round pick had a standout season in 2021, finishing with 15 rushing touchdowns. He had 246 yards and three touchdowns through his first four games this season, but a hamstring injury forced him to miss most of Week 5 and all of Week 6. He returned on Monday night but was limited to only three carries. Over that same three-game span, Rhamondre Stevenson had collected 364 yards from scrimmage, so there’s a chance the Patriots are ready to give the second-year pro the full-time gig.

After being limited to only six games last year, Peppers joined the Patriots on a one-year deal. He’s started one of his seven appearances this season, collecting 20 tackles. He’s seen an inconsistent role in New England, with only two of his contests featuring him in more than 40 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus has been fond of his limited role, ranking him 29th among 87 qualifying safeties.

The Patriots have a crowded receivers depth chart, so it’s no surprise that Meyers and Parker are now being included in the rumor mill. Meyers had a career year in 2021 with Mac Jones, and despite shaky QB play this year, he’s continued to be New England’s most consistent WR. In five games, Meyers has hauled in 26 receptions for 355 yards and two scores. After being acquired from the Dolphins this past offseason, Parker has topped 60 yards in three games (including an 156-yard outburst in Week 3) but couldn’t hit 25 yards in his other three appearances (including a pair of shutouts).

Damien Harris Facing Extended Absence

The Patriots exited their Week 5 game against the Lions with a lopsided win, but questions about the health of one of their offensive contributors. Running back Damien Harris is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a hamstring injury, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). 

Pelissero adds that further testing is still to be done, but it appears the injury – which forced Harris out of Sunday’s contest – will keep him sidelined for an extended duration. The news marks a significant setback for the 25-year-old pending free agent individually, as well as New England’s ground game in general.

Harris saw only four carries in his rookie season, but has been a steady contributor ever since. His workload increased from 2020 to last season, one in which he topped 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first time in his career. His 15 rushing touchdowns that year ranked tied for second in the league, and led to optimism for further production this campaign.

The former third-rounder has found the endzone three times so far in 2022, and maintained a 4.5 yards-per-carry average, nearly identical to his 2021 figure. However, Harris saw a snap share between 39% and 45% in the first four games of the season, a step back from his usage the two previous years. That was owed to the increased workload given to second-year back Rhamondre Stevenson.

The latter flashed plenty of potential as a rookie, and has continued his career ascent in 2022. With 372 yards on 5.5 yards per tote, the Oklahoma product had begun to take on lead back duties prior to Harris’ injury. Now that he will be sidelined, Stevenson is in line to follow up on the 25-carry, 161-yard day he had against the Lions moving forward. With veteran Ty Montgomery already on IR, the Patriots will likely look to fourth-round rookie Pierre Strong Jr. as a backup.

Patriots Notes: Wynn, RBs, Thornton

The Patriots are reportedly open to trading OT Isaiah Wynn, who has been moved from left tackle to right tackle this year after lining up exclusively on the blindside over his first few seasons in the NFL (aside from a 2020 cameo at LG and some training camp work at RT as a rookie). As expected, however, outside interest in the former first-rounder is limited at this point, as Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets.

Although Wynn did play in 16 regular season contests in 2021, he comes with an extensive injury history. He is also tethered to a $10.4MM salary for 2022 since New England exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, and at least some teams consider him a tackle-guard “tweener.” All of that suggests that the Pats — who must also consider the injury history of LT Trent Brown and the underwhelming training camp performances of backups Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste — may not fetch a high enough return to pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Per Mike Giardi of the NFL Network, Brown was not told he would be lining up at left tackle when he re-signed with the Patriots this offseason (Twitter link). The 29-year-old has taken all of his snaps on the right side of the line since 2019, and one wonders if he would have signed the contract, which pays him $6.5MM per year over the next two years, if he had known he would be playing a premium position. Giardi also tweets that Wynn — perhaps as a result of a position switch in his platform year — is not a “happy camper,” so there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the team’s OL bookends in 2022.
  • As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Patriots running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris will be part of a timeshare this year, but as opposed to 2021, they are more likely to remain on the field on third downs. In light of James White‘s retirement, New England is unlikely to have a defined “passing down back,” and that is especially true in the wake of the ankle injury that Ty Montgomery suffered during the team’s preseason finale on Friday. Reiss notes in a separate piece that Montgomery seemed like a roster lock as a third option behind Stevenson and Harris, and the Pats are still awaiting word on the severity of his injury.
  • On Monday, rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton underwent surgery to repair his fractured clavicle, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. It was previously reported that Thornton is expected to return to the field sometime in October, and the six-to-eight-week recovery timeline that Fowler provides jibes with that report.
  • The injury that landed rookie OL Andrew Stueber on the reserve/NFI list is a torn hamstring, as Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports (via Twitter). Stueber sustained the injury while training after the draft, and it could sideline him for his entire rookie season.

Patriots’ Damien Harris Out For Week 15

The Patriots will be without one of their main offensive pieces for Sunday’s showdown with the Colts. Starting running back Damien Harris has been ruled out for the game (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). 

Harris had been limited in practice throughout the week, and was listed as questionable after Thursday due to a hamstring injury. This will mark the second game (the other being in Week 10) that the 24-year-old has missed this season.

The 2019 third-round pick has been enjoying the best campaign of his young career, posting 754 yards and nine touchdowns on 164 carries. He has also added 13 catches for 84 receiving yards. Without him, look for the Patriots to rely on Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden as their top two backs against the Colts. Stevenson, a fourth-round rookie, topped 100 rushing yards during his first start of the season.

With a win Saturday night, New England can match the Chiefs’ 10-4 record, and in doing so reclaim top spot in the AFC.

Patriots RB Damien Harris Clears Concussion Protocol

The Patriots offense will get some reinforcement for tomorrow’s game against the Falcons. Running back Damien Harris returned to practice today, an indication he’s cleared concussion protocol and should be good to go for TNF.

The former third-round pick has been having a career season in 2021, collecting 610 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. Before suffering a concussion in Week 9, Harris had collected at least 80 rushing yards in three straight games. The 24-year-old should find himself back atop the depth chart on Thursday evening.

With Harris out of the lineup, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson ran wild last weekend, collecting 114 total yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots are also rostering running backs Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor, while veteran pass-catcher James White is out for the season.

Gunner Olszewski also overcame concussion protocol and should play tomorrow against the Falcons. The 24-year-old was forced to miss Sunday’s win over the Browns, but he otherwise appeared in all nine previous games in 2021. Olszewski has mostly appeared on special teams, having returned 10 kicks for 242 yards and 18 punts for 248 yards.

Patriots’ Damien Harris Out For Week 10

The Patriots will be without their starting running back against the Browns, and they may be down multiple backs. New England ruled out Damien Harris for Week 10.

Harris is in the Patriots’ concussion protocol after leaving last week’s game. He did not practice this week. While entering the weekend with a questionable designation, Harris will be shelved for at least a game because of his head injury.

This will mean both the run-oriented Patriots and Browns squads will be without their starting backs Sunday. The Pats also have listed Rhamondre Stevenson as questionable due to his status in the protocol. The rookie also sustained a concussion against the Panthers and did not practice this week, but the Pats remain hopeful he can play in the key AFC matchup.

Sunday’s game will nevertheless feature depleted backfields. The Browns have seen COVID-19 reduce theirs essentially to ex-Alliance of American Football performer D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland’s only active-roster back that did not test positive for COVID-19 this week. Chubb, Demetric Felton and John Kelly did test positive and are out this week. Kareem Hunt remains without a firm return timetable from his calf injury, but the standout backup might be down until December.

As for the Patriots, they have the likes of Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor healthy. Harris, however, has gained 547 rushing yards — 400-plus more than the Pats’ second-leading rusher — and scored seven touchdowns in a breakthrough season.

Latest On Damien Harris, Patriots RB Depth

Per usual, the Patriots running back room is getting a bit crowded. However, while Bill Belichick and co. will traditionally shake up their depth chart based on performance and opponents, ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes the hierarchy is already set heading into training camp. According to the writer, Damien Harris is the “surefire No. 1 option” at the moment

Harris, a 2019 third-round pick, barely played during his rookie campaign, but he took on more responsibility during the 2020 season. The Alabama product ended up finishing the campaign with 743 yards from scrimmage on only 142 carries. Best of all, the 5-foot-11 running back doesn’t appear to be a flash in the pan, as Belichick was quick to praise the 24-year-old last month.

“Damien works extremely hard at all phases — certainly his conditioning and training, running game, passing game, protection, route running, catching the ball,” Belichick said (via Reiss) “He’s got a lot of skill and he can contribute in a variety of ways, and he’s looking to upgrade where he is in every area.”

While Harris seems to have a firm hold on the starting gig, the rest of the depth chart is still a bit uncertain. As Reiss notes, the only other running back who’s (basically) guaranteed to make the roster is fourth-round rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. Elsewhere, pass-catching veteran James White will probably retain his role for at least another year, J.J. Taylor is inexpensive and should serve as a “spark plug,” and Brandon Bolden has established himself as a special teams ace. This means that former first-round pick Sony Michel could find himself on the outside looking in, especially if the Patriots decide to hang on to one of their younger, less expensive alternatives.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team