Patriots-Saints Week Three Injury Report: Second Edition — Harris Still Hampered?

A key member of the Patriots defense returned to practice on Thursday, while another’s absence was ‘non-injury-related.’
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While the New England Patriots once again enjoyed abundant attendance from their 53-man roster for practice on Thursday, there might be some additional cause for optimism, as well as a bit of a concern, heading into Sunday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.

Patriots safety Adrian Phillips was not present for Thursday’s session. It should be noted that Phillips’ absence was listed as ‘not injury related’ and is likely the result of the expected birth of his first child.

After not participating in Wednesday’s session, linebacker Matt Judon returned to practice on Thursday. Though limited in his availability, Judon’s presence on the field at least provides hope that the talented defender may be able to suit up on Sunday. However, for the second straight day, both offensive lineman Trent Brown (calf) and running back Damien Harris (finger) were limited participants. As a result, their status for Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium might be in question, for the time being.

Here is Thursday’s full report, along with its implications for this Week Three matchup:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

S Adrian Phillips, Not Injury Related

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

T Trent Brown, Calf

RB Damien Harris, Finger

LB Matt Judon, Knee

FULL AVAILABILITY

LB Kyle Van Noy, Throat

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

C Erik McCoy, Calf

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

CB Marshon Lattimore, Hand

G Calvin Throckmorten, Knee

DE Payton Turner, Elbow

FULL AVAILABILITY

DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Knee

DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Calf

LB Pete Werner, Hamstring

DB P.J. Williams, Back

Harris’ Injury Worth Watching

Once again, running back Damien Harris was a limited participant on Thursday due to an injury to his finger. While having limited availability for two consecutive days is not a definitive blow to his playing status on Sunday, Harris’ injury now becomes something which the Patriots will have to monitor. Harris has been the Patriots' feature back through the first two games of the season, gaining 162 yards with one touchdown. The Pats running back corps also features James White, J.J. Taylor, Brandon Bolden and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. White has been the Patriots’ primary option on third-down, as well as an effective pass-catcher out of the backfield. Stevenson and Taylor have traded ‘healthy-scratch’ status for the past two weeks, while Bolden remains a situational option. If Harris continues to be hampered by this injury, or [worst-case scenario] should he be unable to suit up, look for White, Taylor and Stevenson to split the extra snaps, normally reserved for Harris.

Behind Enemy Lines

In New Orleans, center Erik McCoy continues to be a non-participant in practice. As such, his availability for Sunday is strongly in doubt. This may be positive news for the Patriots, as McCoy’s week two replacement, Cesar Ruiz, struggled mightily to contain the Carolina Panthers’ aggressive defensive front. With the Pats showing more of a desire and ability to rush the passer and stifle the run, the Pats defensive line may be able to place greater pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston, while trying to limit the productivity of running back Alvin Kamala.

In the secondary, cornerback Marshon Lattimore remained limited with a hand injury. If Lattimore is either unable to play on Sunday, or is limited in his ability, the Patriots passing game should look to exploit that by testing the Saints’ coverage downfield.