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Is Damien Harris playing today vs. the Titans?

Will Damien Harris today against the Tennessee Titans after spending the week on the injury report with a neck injury?

Will New England Patriots RB Damien Harris play in Week 12 as he recovers from a neck injury? With Harris having spent his third straight week on the Patriots’ injury report, what is the latest regarding his availability for Sunday?

Update 11/28/21: According to the Patriots, Damien Harris will be active for their game against the Titans today.

Is Damien Harris playing in Week 12 against the Titans despite a neck injury?

It has been a rough few weeks for Harris when it comes to injury issues. He spent Weeks 10 and 11 on the practice report with a concussion. After clearing the concussion protocol, Harris would miss the Patriots’ Week 10 game before returning in Week 11. However, after carrying the ball 10 times for 56 yards on Thursday, Harris is back on the injury report this week.

Neck injuries can be tricky, as we have seen with Chris Carson, and we have not had much in the way of updates regarding the severity of the ailment. The fact he was able to practice all week and did not have a setback is positive. Nevertheless, Harris entered the weekend questionable. Harris is expected to play in Week 12 according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. We’ll now have to wait for confirmation when the Week 12 inactives are released to know his status.

Injuries are disrupting a solid season

These injury issues have impacted what was shaping up to be a good season for Harris. There have been blips, such as the fumbles in Week 1 and 5 and 4 carries for -4 yards in Week 4 against the Buccaneers. Still, Harris is averaging 14.3 rush attempts and 60.3 yards per game. On top of that, he’s scored 7 touchdowns and has pulled in 12 of his 14 targets.

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The problem is that the concussion absence in Week 10 opened the door for Rhamondre Stevenson to stake a claim on the RB1 role. In that Week 10 game, Stevenson carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. When Harris returned in Week 11, he found himself splitting touches with Stevenson, who had 12 rush attempts to Harris’ 10.

What are the Patriots’ options if Harris cannot play?

The most obvious player to step in to fill the lead role is Stevenson. However, he appeared on the injury report as a limited participant Thursday with a knee injury. A player appearing on the injury report midweek can be a concern. But Stevenson was at least able to practice in a limited fashion Friday and is also questionable.

Behind those two on the Patriots’ depth chart are Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor. Neither is viewed as every-down RBs, so what the Patriots would do if Stevenson and Harris could not go would be interesting to see. Between the two of them, Bolden and Taylor have 45 carries. Bolden has been utilized in the passing game with 29 targets, but not as a lead-back type.

The Patriots do not have a running back on their practice squad. Therefore, they are extremely limited if Harris and Stevenson do not play. They could look to fullback Jakob Johnson, but he doesn’t have a single rush attempt in his career to this point.

The other option that was discussed heading into Week 10 — when both Harris and Stevenson were in the concussion protocol — was the potential of TE Jonnu Smith receiving some carries. Yet, Smith was also limited this week with a shoulder injury. He managed to play through the injury in Week 11 but was inactive in Week 10. Given his injury status, it’s unlikely that Smith would take on a major workload in the run game.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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