In a significant blow to the Buffalo Bills' already-shaky ground game, running back Damien Harris has been placed on injured reserve following a harrowing neck injury sustained in Week 6 against the New York Giants. The signing of Harris was a gamble by the Bills, who were looking to fill the void left by Devin Singletary's departure to the Houston Texans with a one-year, $1.7 million contract.
However, the recent events have fans and Fantasy Football managers alike questioning Harris' availability for the rest of the season. In an atmosphere thick with concern, Bills' head coach Sean McDermott provided an update on Harris' condition, revealing that the running back spent a night in the hospital for evaluation.
Despite his release, McDermott noted that Harris is still nursing soreness in his neck area.
Complicating matters further, Harris is also in the league’s concussion protocol. Before stepping onto the field again, he must successfully navigate a mandated five-phase recovery process.
For a player who has never completed an entire regular NFL season, these back-to-back setbacks pose considerable concern. Last year, Harris was limited to just 11 games due to hamstring and thigh injuries. His tumultuous track record also includes a 2020 season that ended prematurely with the New England Patriots placing him on injured reserve after just ten games.
The scene at Highmark Stadium during Week 6 was one of acute tension. Harris' first rushing attempt ended in a violent collision with Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke, rendering Harris motionless on the field for an extended period.
Emergency medical personnel immobilized Harris and transported him out of the stadium via ambulance—a sight that had many fearing the worst. Harris managed to give a thumbs-up sign as he was carted off, offering a glimmer of hope to a worried Bills community.
With Harris sidelined, Latavius Murray and Ty Johnson are expected to shoulder a larger share of the workload, serving as backups to James Cook. The Bills have specified that Harris must remain on IR for a minimum of four weeks, making Week 11 against the New York Jets the earliest possible return date.
However, the Bills have the option to activate a 21-day practice window for Harris upon his exit from IR, a window that could see him make his return by Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. As for his concussion protocol, the timeline for Harris' completion of the league's mandated five phases remains a question mark.
While his condition warrants significant caution, the hope remains that Harris could be back on the field sooner rather than later.