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.
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.
October 5th, 2020 at 3:42pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Patriots are doing some major shuffling with their backfield. New England is placing running back Sony Michel on injured reserve and activating fellow running back Damien Harris off IR, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team also activated receiver Gunner Olszewski and placed safety Cody Davis on injured reserve.
With the new rules this year, Michel will have to miss at least three games before returning. It’s a bummer for Michel since he was coming off by far his best game of the season, when he rushed for 117 yards on only nine carries against the Raiders. He had been a disappointment through the first couple of weeks, and will now be hitting the shelf. Fortunately, Rapoport noted in a follow-up tweet that he was told Michel could be activated relatively quickly and it’s not a season-ending injury.
A third-round pick last year, Harris barely played as a rookie and was a healthy scratch most weeks. He reportedly had a strong summer though, and was looking like he might be the Patriots’ starter to open the year before a hand injury sent him to IR. Now he’s back and figures to be in the mix tonight against Kansas City, although with James White and Rex Burkhead also present it’s unclear how much run he’ll get.
That being said, with Michel hitting injured reserve there’s a clear lane for Harris to shine if he can make the most of the opportunity. With Cam Newton out due to COVID-19 and Brian Hoyer getting the start at quarterback, the Pats figure to be running the ball frequently on Monday night. A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed as a rookie before taking a step back last year. This quad injury he picked up against Las Vegas certainly isn’t what he needed to get back on track.
Olszewski, a 2019 UDFA, served as New England’s punt returner for half of last season. Davis is a core special teamer who has yet to play a defensive snap this season.
September 12th, 2020 at 4:10pm CST by Sam Robinson
Here are Saturday’s minor moves. Many of these roster decisions involve practice squad promotions. Under the new CBA, teams are permitted to promote two P-squad players without corresponding roster moves per week. Teams can carry 55 players on their rosters for game days and can have up to 48 active.
Isaiah Wynn will make another return to the Patriots’ active roster. The second-year tackle missed the past eight games due to turf toe, but Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the Patriots will move him from IR back into their starting lineup.
The 2018 first-round pick’s NFL odyssey has not gone smoothly. After an Achilles tear wiped out his would-be rookie season, Wynn suffered an injury in Week 2 that sent him to IR. But the Patriots are set to give him another try. Considering their unusually shaky left tackle situation, Wynn staying healthy this time would represent a key development for the defending Super Bowl champions.
New England has used in-season signing Marshall Newhouse at left tackle for the past eight games. While Pro Football Focus slots the journeyman as a middling tackle this season (No. 48 overall), he’s been an obvious downgrade from Trent Brown. The Pats have benefited from a steady succession at left tackle for nearly 30 years, going from Bruce Armstrong to Matt Light to Nate Solder to Brown. The franchise had designs on Wynn continuing that pipeline, but the North Carolina State product’s injury trouble has put his future in question.
The Pats used the first of their two 2018 first-round picks on Wynn. While he’s only played 82 snaps as a pro, PFF did rate his limited work as positive. He will have a chance to build on that soon, likely this week against the Cowboys.
To make room for Wynn on their 53-man roster, the Pats placed wide receiver Gunner Olszewski on IR. Olszewski is battling ankle and hamstring injuries.