Former Patriots RB Damien Harris says time in New England ‘wasn’t easy from the beginning’

"My second year, I started out banged up, ended up banged up."

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris warms up before they play the Minnesota Vikings during NFL action at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

When he was on the field for the Patriots, Damien Harris was a productive running back, leading the team in rushing yards in both 2020 (691 yards) and 2021 (929 yards).

The challenge for the 26-year-old back, however, was just being able to stay on the field consistently.

After playing just two games as a rookie in 2019, Harris missed 14 games over his last three seasons due to a variety of injuries.

Now a member of the Bills, Harris told the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran that his time in New England “wasn’t easy from the beginning.” 

“My first year, I didn’t play ,” Harris said. “My second year, I started out banged up, ended up banged up. Last year, I was banged up.”


When he was healthy, Harris had all of the makings of an impact back and a dangerous 1-2 punch next to New England’s current RB1 in Rhamondre Stevenson.

A dependable red-zone threat in 2021 (15 touchdowns), Harris was leapfrogged on the depth chart by Stevenson in 2022. He missed six total games last year due to both hamstring and thigh injuries.

If Harris remains healthy, he can likely form an effective tandem in Buffalo’s backfield next to James Cook. After moving on from New England in free agency, Harris will get plenty of chances to try and stick it against his former team in 2023.

“I always said that playing against the Bills, I felt like brought out the best in me as a competitor and as a player,” Harris said of his fit in Buffalo, per the Bills website. “And from the outside looking in as an opponent if I felt that way then I knew that if I was able to join this organization, I feel like I could just take it to a new height.”

With Harris joining an AFC East rival in Buffalo, the Patriots running-back group is still headlined by Stevenson, with second-year players in Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris looking for larger roles. Veteran Ty Montgomery has plenty of potential as a third-down back after missing most of last season due to injury.