Damien Harris has been a more efficient runner than Rhamondre Stevenson

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  • Indianapolis Colts
    Indianapolis Colts
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  • New England Patriots
    New England Patriots
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  • Damien Harris
    Damien Harris
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  • Rhamondre Stevenson
    Rhamondre Stevenson
    American football running back

Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson has filled in admirably for Damien Harris in the games where the Patriots veteran has missed time, including last week against the Indianapolis Colts.

But the Patriots do seem to lose a step when they’re grinding away at defenses. Harris has been a more efficient runner in both counting stats and advanced statistics. Not only does Harris average 4.6 yards per carry, but he’s also putting up roughly .8 yards over expected per attempt. Both those sums are better than Stevenson’s 4.2 yards per carry and his roughly .3 yards over expected per attempt. Harris also seems to generate more explosive plays, with a 64-yard carry, a 35-yard carry and a 26-yard carry this season. Stevenson’s long is 21 yards.

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It’s not completely cut-and-dried. Stevenson does have a higher average of yards after contact (3.1) when compared to Harris (2.9). Stevenson is also averaging more missed tackles forced per carry (.24) than Harris (.2).

Clearly, Stevenson brings his impressive abilities to the Patriots’ power rushing attack. New England can send him into crowded spaces to pick up gritty yardage. Stevenson is also clearly a more efficient pass-catcher than Harris, with Stevenson averaging 9.3 yards per catch (13 receptions) to Harris’ 6.5 (13 receptions).

But the Patriots also simply get more yards out of Harris when they need a runner. So while it seems like the two backs have been interchangeable, Harris’ return to the active roster could be paramount for the Patriots’ game against the Buffalo Bills, whose only defensive weakness seems to be their run defense.

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