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Patriots likely without key running back versus Browns

An injury to an opposing back didn’t matter against Atlanta but maybe this week it will.

NFL: Detroit Lions at New England Patriots Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

While the injury to QB Mac Jones that has kept him out for the last two weeks will get most of the headlines, especially with backup Brian Hoyer injured as well, that isn’t the only New England Patriots injury of note.

The Patriots offense has leaned on the two-headed running back monster of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris through the first five weeks of the season. Stevenson leads the way with 68 carries for 372 yards with Harris not far behind with 57 carries for 257 yards. Harris leads the team with three rushing touchdowns.

Combined, the two have New England’s rushing offense in the top 10 in the league.

Listed both as starters on the team’s unofficial depth chart, the Patriots are likely to be without Harris for multiple games starting this week against the Cleveland Browns:

Depending on the results of the test, Harris could be placed on injured reserve for the next four games. Even if the hamstring injury isn’t bad enough for IR, it is unlikely he will play against the Browns.

Pierre Strong is the only other running back listed on New England’s depth chart with Kevin Harris on their practice squad.

Cleveland has struggled against the run this year. In Week 4 against the Atlanta Falcons, the defense gave up over 200 yards rushing despite Cordarrelle Patterson only carrying the ball nine times. Seldom-used backs Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley put up 140 yards combined on 20 carries that week.

Losing Harris might be problematic for the Patriots but, given the Browns struggles to stop the run, it may not matter much in Week 6. We will keep you up to date with all the injury news going into this week’s AFC showdown.