After a rookie year that saw him limited to two games with four carries, Damien Harris is off to an impressive start in year two. Showing an improved burst and comfort catching the ball, Harris could help spark a resurgent Patriots ground game in 2020.
"Last year, I had the opportunity to just learn and absorb as much information as I could learn from the older guys," said Harris on Tuesday after practice. "Being able to learn from all those guys and being a sponge, soaking up as much as I could last year and then translating it this year and taking everything I learned last year and continuing to learn things this year. Going out there with the mindset every day to improve physically, mentally, doing whatever I can to make this team successful."
Though Harris and the other second-year players might be a little more familiar with the system and routine, they're still a long ways off from getting comfortable.
"Going from one year to the next you always want to become more comfortable," explained Harris. "The more you know and the more knowledgeable you are and know what the coaches expect of you, what your teammates expect of you, what it takes to be a New England Patriot. Once you learn that, once you figure that out, it definitely makes things a little bit easier but also at the same time it really doesn't because the best is demanded of you every single day. It's from the coaches and from your teammates, from the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out, your best is demanded. "
With four returning starters blocking for him, Harris has an offensive line that has opened holes all the way to Super Bowl titles and could do the same for him. Harris, Rex Burkhead, James White and undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor have flown through some sizable holes this summer.
"Those guys work incredibly hard and they make me wanna work harder," said Harris of his offensive line. "I love running behind those guys, I can't even talk enough about how great of a job they do on a day-to-day basis and they make my life easier."
But even a great offensive line can't make it that easy.
"In the NFL, holes and gaps close quicker than they open I assure you of that," added Harris.
Until Sony Michel and Lamar Miller come off PUP, Harris will continue to see a healthy dose of carries and should be sharp and as ready to go as anyone come September 13. There's a lot of change and uncertainty this season, but Harris looks and sounds locked in.
"[E]very day you have to come in and do just that, give your best every single day and that's not easy, but I'm looking forward to the challenge every day... to get better, to improve, to continue to learn and do whatever I need to help this team be successful."
Webex Quotes of Note
Isaiah Wynn on Cam Newton's huddle handshakes:
"He just has his own unique handshake with everybody who's in the huddle. He comes in and energizes everybody."
Chase Winovich on the new look along the edges of the defense:
"We're taking things one step at a time. It's a learning curve. Whenever you lose a couple players the situation is what it is, we're just trying to adapt the best we can but we we got a lot of guys that love football, love learning about the game, coming to meetings, attacking with enthusiasm, trying to be the best we can each and every day."
Justin Herron on his first NFL training camp:
"You just gotta adapt. That's what coach Belichick always talks about, just adapting to the situation you're put into. All I'm doing is adapting and learning from the older guys and asking them questions about all the different positions."
Adam Butler on his focus:
"I can tell you that every day we go out there we are working to improve every day. We're out there, we watch the film, see what we did wrong and we try to correct it the next day."