Coming off his best performance of the season, Damien Harris has fought through some adversity to start his third season with the Patriots. Despite two fumbles coming inside the opponent's 10-yard-line, Harris has maintained his focus and is now starting to gain some momentum that the team hopes he'll carry over into the contest against the Jets.
Though the Patriots cruised to a win in Week 2 over New York, Harris expects this game to have its own special twists and turns.
"No two games are the same, whether you're playing the same team or not," said Harris. "We know we played them once and we're familiar with them but we know there's going to be different challenges, they're going to do some things different, we may do some things differently. We know that when we go out there we have to be ready to take on whatever challenges we're faced with. That's been our mindset."
Head coach Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of Harris earlier on Friday morning.
"[Damien] has a ton of respect from every player and coach in this organization, as he should because he's earned that," said Belichick. "That's not something you get from talking or some kind of false image. You get it from day after day, consistent performance and dedication, and he's the poster boy for that. He works extremely hard and takes his job very seriously and always tries to perform at the absolute highest level and do what's best for the team. He's earned everybody's respect for that. That's not something that's given. He's put in the blood, the sweat, and earned it."
"Just being a part of this organization first and foremost is something I'm incredibly thankful for, something I feel very fortunate to be a part of and it's reasons like that that I work so hard," said Harris. "I know I'm very fortunate to be in this position. I know where I came from. I know what it's taken for me to get here. I know the sacrifices that I've had to make, all the tough times that I've had. I know the sacrifices that my mom's made, my entire family, just to help me get here. I just wanna make the most of my opportunity."
Despite the slow start for the team overall, Harris' confidence in himself and his teammates was unwavering. It doesn't take much to right the ship and get things headed in the right direction.
"Things have necessarily gone the way that we wanted to all the time this year," said Harris. "All we gotta do is keep our heads down, keep going and keep moving forward. It's a long season, we still have a lot of football left to play. I'm confident in our players and our coaches and everybody in this organization, if we keep showing up, keep doing the right things, continue to put our heads down and work then we can turn the season around in a heartbeat. Our next game is the biggest game and that's this Sunday again we're gonna be facing a tough challenge, we just got to be ready for it."
Patriots.com's Mike Dussault shares his players to watch ahead of the Patriots Week 7 matchup against the New York Jets.
5 Points of Emphasis vs. Jets
- Finish Wilson: The Patriots fed off of four Zach Wilson interceptions in the Week 2 matchup and those largely defined the New England win, but after getting just one sack on Dak Prescott last week and seeing him do a lot of late-down damage, the Pats D needs to find a way to get after Wilson and finishing him off inside the pocket. It's a delicate balance. Some of Wilson's best work has come outside the pocket, so it's about not only keeping him in the pocket but finishing him off there as well. With injuries adding up in the secondary, the front seven needs to take control and end plays before they become sandlot football, something Wilson excels at.
- Watch the Slot: A good place for the Jets to counter the Patriots' approach could be with slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who was missing from the first matchup and has led the Jets in receiving in each of the last two seasons while putting up 12 touchdowns. How the Patriots will deal with Crowder is complicated by Jonathan Jones' injury that caused him to miss practice this week and makes him unlikely to play. Will second-year defensive back Myles Bryant be the man to fill in for Jones against Crowder? Or will the Patriots see Crowder's importance and shift J.C. Jackson or Jalen Mills to cover the veteran in the key moments? This is a matchup to watch and one where Wilson could get off to a good start by taking what's open immediately to him.
- How about another clean game?: The first Jets game was the only time this season that the Patriots did not have multiple turnovers. Now they have 11 on the season and it's hard to measure the impact of those turnovers over the course of the first six games. Can they reproduce the clean game that they had against the Jets the first time? New York has yet to get an interception this season, they also have only forced four fumbles. Add it up and it seems like this is just what the Patriots need to get their sloppy play under control.
- Emerging Youth: Despite the success of rookie Mac Jones, as well as Christian Barmore, there hasn't been a huge youth movement in New England this season, as players like Josh Uche, Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor have all had limited roles through six games. Those players still offer intriguing potential and playmaking ability, something that the team could use on both sides of the ball. With Chase Winovich now on IR, could Ronnie Perkins see the first action of his rookie season? For a team that has a clear trajectory toward the future, the Patriots need to find out which players can be relied on for the long run.
- Win: As always, this is all that matters but it's hard to remember a time when the Patriots needed a win more badly. They haven't won at home, they're floundering toward a lost season if they continue to play bad football, hurt themselves with mistakes and go quiet in the game's biggest moments. While there won't be much fanfare for knocking off a one-win Jets team, this Patriots team needs to build some confidence and start climbing their way out of the 2-4 hole they've built for themselves.
The Patriots wrapped up their week of preparation for the Jets with the same attendance as Thursday, as Shaun Wade (concussion), Davon Godchaux (finger) and Jonathan Jones (shoulder) were all not spotted. Dont'a Hightower and Deatrich Wise did not participate on Wednesday and were limited on Thursday. Their availability for the game is worth monitoring as there are now a number of significant questions for the defense heading into Sunday's divisional clash.
Former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Saturday, got fitted for his honorary red jacket at The Patriots Hall of Fame, Presented by Raytheon Technologies, on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. Seymour, who spoke to the media following the fitting, also took part in a speaker series event at The Hall Thursday night.
Seymour prepares for Hall induction
Richard Seymour was back in Foxborough ahead of his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, scheduled to take place on Saturday at 3pm, to be fitted with the customary red jacket that comes with enshrinement.
"I think this honor is a part of your legacy," said Seymour. "You think about the people that have been there with you the entire way... You just think about the sacrifices that so many people have made. It's a tremendous honor."
Bill Belichick was asked a number of questions about Seymour during his Friday press conference and the coach laid out everything that made Seymour such a talented player who made his presence felt on every snap.
"Richard was a tremendous player," said Belichick. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything.
"We won a lot of games with him. He was a great player. He certainly deserves to be in the Patriot's Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that'll be coming shortly for him as well."
Seymour was happy to throw some praise back in the direction of his old coach.
"When I came out of Georgia I was 20 years old, now, to reflect back, you just think about coach Belichick," said Seymour. "One of the greatest defensive minds ever, probably the greatest. For him to draft [me with the] sixth pick overall out of the University of Georgia, that was the confidence I needed. I respected him, admired him from afar and just the confidence that he displayed throughout his tenure as a coach, just all of the greats that he coached and the insight. I'm looking forward to this weekend."