Report: Patriots' Damien Harris not expected to play vs. Colts due to illness

With veteran RB reportedly out, could J.J. Taylor make 2022 debut? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots had good reason for signing J.J. Taylor to the 53-man roster on Saturday.

Veteran running back Damien Harris is unlikely to play in Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts due to an illness, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Harris and rookie running back Pierre Strong were both listed as questionable due to illness, so depending on Strong's status, Taylor could be the top backup to starter Rhamondre Stevenson on Sunday.

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UPDATE: Harris is officially inactive and Strong is active, meaning Taylor and Strong will both back up Stevenson on Sunday.

If Taylor does see the field, it will mark his 2022 debut. The 24-year-old played in a total of 11 games over two seasons for New England since signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2020, serving mostly as a pass-catcher and change-of-pace back.

While Stevenson should see a heavy workload again in Week 9 -- he amassed 143 total yards against the New York Jets in Week 8 and is averaging 116.2 total yards per game over his last six contests -- Taylor could see some work in spelling Stevenson, especially if the Patriots jump out to an early lead.

New England drafted two running backs this spring in Strong and Kevin Harris, which forced Taylor to the practice squad. But the 24-year-old could get the chance to prove his work Sunday at Gillette Stadium.