Patriots rookie RB Damien Harris gets more attention with Sony Michel absent

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FOXBORO -- With Sony Michel missing another spring practice Tuesday, this meant more reps for rookie Damien Harris, who the Patriots selected in the third round out of Alabama.

The 22-year-old just wants to use this time on the field to get better.

"I just came out here with the mindset to get better and improve; learn from my mistakes last week and the day before," he said after Tuesday's minicamp session. "So I just want to come out here and get better, work on things I need to improve on and continue to improve on the things that maybe I'm decent at, so that's just my mindset coming out here to be the best player I can be."

Harris added: "I mean, you can work on anything at this point. That's our objective: get better at all phases of the game. I know that's my objective. Come out here and be the best player I can be, whether it's in the run game, the pass game, special teams. Whatever I'm asked to do, I'm going to be able to come out here and do it at a high level."

In his four years at Alabama, Harris shared the backfield with a number of talented running backs, and it will likely be the same thing in New England with Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead also in the mix.

"I mean, to be honest with you, my college days are over," he said. "So I don't really think about it that much. I don't like to compare it what I'm doing now because it's different. So I don't really think about it that much. My objective is just to come out here and whatever the system is, whatever they ask me to do, whatever is needed of me, that's what I'm going to do, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."

At the time, many questioned the selection of Harris, but Michel's absence this spring seems to show the reason why it was made. Michel has battled knee issues since his days at Georgia and it's clear the Patriots are managing him as best they can to try get the most out of him when it matters most during the season.

As a rookie last year, Michel finished with 280 carries including the playoffs and that may not be sustainable, which is why Harris is now in the picture to take some of the load off his back.

Harris is certainly a player to keep an eye on this summer, as he could be one that has more of a role than many envisioned.