New England Patriots: What happened to these 3 players in Week 3 loss?

New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (CP 2)
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (CP 2) /
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New England Patriots
Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

No. 2: Damien Harris

The New England Patriots running back depth chart took a hit yesterday afternoon when James White was forced out of action with what looked to be a serious hip injury. Many figured that meant we would see more of Damien Harris and J.J. Taylor with White out of action. Instead, the Patriots decided to move Brandon Bolden up a few notches on the depth chart, and he ended up with the most snaps by a running back in this one.

At this point of his career, Bolden is nothing more than a special teams player who can occasionally take a carry when needed. Why he is getting more snaps than Harris, and even the second year back Taylor, is beyond confusing. Bolden received 33 snaps compared to Harris’ 22 and Taylor’s 10.

Harris’ lack of involvement in this game was particularly frustrating. I think we can all agree we would rather see Harris lining up in the backfield rather than Bolden, even if he doesn’t end up getting the ball. Harris is clearly a more impactful player than Bolden, and when teams see Bolden in the backfield, they really don’t have to be concerned he’s going to tear them apart.

That threat exists when Harris is on the field, so why he wasn’t on the field more is beyond me. Sure, he didn’t necessarily do much (6 CAR, 14 YDS) but he was pretty much written out of the gameplan well before the Saints ran the score up to 21-3. Once White went down, it was the Bolden show for some reason, and he unfortunately just doesn’t offer the impact that Harris or Taylor can potentially bring.

Part of the reason the Patriots dealt away Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams during training camp was because of how good they felt about their running back room. Yet through three games, the running backs have all been underutilized. Harris’ lack of involvement in this one was particularly confusing, and if the coaching staff resorted to handing things over to Bolden, that probably isn’t a good thing.

Hopefully the Patriots are planning to include Harris in their gameplan for Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because they are going to need anything they can get from him to take some pressure off rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Hopefully the Patriots can rectify whatever issues Harris endured against New Orleans, or else they will quickly find their record sitting at 1-3.