New England Patriots: Damien Harris is primed for a huge year

New England Patriots Damien Harris. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots Damien Harris. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

There is a lot of buzz surrounding the New England Patriots and their revamped offense as we get closer to the 2021 NFL season kicking off.

The Patriots improved their pass catching group tremendously, maintained most of their rock-solid offensive line and drafted a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones who may potentially be able to start right away.

Aside from Cam Newton, who is competing against Jones for the starting job, there is no one who could benefit from the offseason additions to the offense more than running back Damien Harris.

Harris was one of the few bright spots on the 2020 Patriots. He only played in 10 games but rushed for 691 yards on 137 attempts, good for five yards per carry.

Considering how awful the Patriots were in the passing game last season, it’s incredible that Harris averaged nearly 70 yards per game given the fact that defenses knew more often than not he was getting the ball when he was on the field.

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With that added pressure hopefully alleviated due to the roster improvements, Harris should easily improve on those numbers and really shine in 2021. Even Bill Belichick showered Harris with praise and was forthcoming about him having a chance to lead the backfield.

Damien Harris could turn into a star for the New England Patriots

The only real competition for Harris is Sony Michel, who at the very least will spell Harris this season if not outright split carries depending on their individual performance from week to week. However, Harris showed last season that he gives a spark to the offense that Michel hasn’t been able to provide since his rookie season in 2018.

Assuming he stays healthy, it’s not unrealistic to expect Harris to at least eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark this season especially with a 17th game added to the schedule. At his absolute peak he could be among the top running backs in the league in terms of rushing production.

That might sound a bit too enthusiastic, but the possibility is there with an offensive line that should be a stout unit combined with the play calling of Josh McDaniels, who usually finds a way to ensure that the run game is a strength of the Patriots.

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It will be fun to see how Damien Harris will perform with better talent on offense and less of the defensive focus on him. Chances are he will be one of many important factors to a successful 2021 season for the New England Patriots.