The last three games haven't been pretty for the Patriots, but for Damien Harris they've finally been an opportunity to get significant game action for the first time in his career.
After seeing just four carries in two games as a rookie, Harris now has 177 yards on 33 carries, good for a strong 5.4 yards-per-attempt, while he's also chipped in the first two catches of his career. With a suspect Buffalo run defense, the second-year running back will play an important part in New England's chances to break their losing streak.
"Every opportunity I have to go out there and compete for this team, whether it's in practice or in a game, I feel very fortunate," said Harris on Friday afternoon. "I've learned so much over these past two years and being able to go out there on the field and help this team compete, and just go to war every single day with this team, it means a lot to me. It's very special and I look forward to it every day."
Harris has shown some spark and now looks to put it all together with a complete game that could lead the Patriots to a much-needed victory. After a spending two days on the practice field in the rain, Harris felt it was good preparation for what the team could face on Sunday.
"Luckily, we had a week to practice in it," said Harris. "It's just about going and executing regardless of the circumstances. It's very important we know it's a chance the weather is going to be bad Sunday in Buffalo. We just got to go play and find a way to execute."
With injuries hitting the receiver room hard, Harris knows he has to be one of the players to step up and get the offense going.
"Unfortunately, that's been a part of what's been going on, we've got some guys banged up and things like that, but at the end of the day, regardless of how big or small it is, we got to go out there and just do our job," said Harris. "Whatever they ask of us, whatever they think that we need to do to make this offense successful, that's what we need to do."
Due to an early snow storm, Patriots practice was moved inside the bubble on Friday and closed off to media access. The team later reported that in addition to expected absences Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Carl Davis, Stephon Gilmore was a new player missing after popping up on the injury report yesterday.
Ian Rapoport reported that Gilmore underwent a precautionary MRI on his knee and his status for the game is not yet known. After a week of having his name swirling with trade rumors, Gilmore's situation will be complicated by the injury, not to mention the potential impact his absence would have in matching up with the Bills passing attack.
As for Edelman, Bill Belichick was optimistic he might return this season.
"I don't think this is a season-ending situation, but we'll see," said Belichick on Friday morning. "I'm not a doctor. We'll see how it goes here. Hopefully he'll be back. I know he has worked awfully hard and nobody's more competitive than Julian is. So, he'll do everything he can to be back out there and we'll just take it day by day at the process and we'll see how it goes."
Webex Quotes of Note
Damiere Byrd on stepping up after reports of Julian Edelman's injury:
"It's always tough to see a teammate go down and have to go through surgery so we're always here to lift them up, pick them up. I just hope he gets through this time well and has a good recovery. Football is a game, it's a team sport, people go down. This is an opportunity for other people to step up, including myself. Just being able to prepare this week and get ready to go out for the game and then do whatever I can to help the team win."
Nick Folk on the challenge of kicking in weather:
"I try not to look too far ahead, obviously in Buffalo [weather] can change at the drop of a hat so. It's one thing that up here we practice a lot outside, get a lot of that good weather to practice in. So we got a good couple of days in earlier in the week, we can pray that it will be better but you never know up in Buffalo."
Jonathan Jones on not pressing:
"I think that's an extreme key, you can't press too hard. You can't think that you have to move the mountain. You just have to keep moving rocks and then eventually, it will be moved. Chipping at it, doing the little things, getting back to little details and continuing to improve. I think that's key, it's just a limiting mistakes, little small mistakes and those things that up."