Patriots running back Damien Harris did not practice Sunday after leaving New England’s loss on Thursday because of a thigh injury. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots running back Damien Harris left last Thursday’s loss at Minnesota because of a thigh injury and did not return.

In the Patriots’ first practice since the injury, Harris was missing. If he cannot play Thursday versus Buffalo, the running back depth will be reduced to Rhamondre Stevenson and rookies Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris, with third-year back J.J. Taylor available on the practice squad.

Harris was one two players absent Sunday, along with practice-squad wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr.

Offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn returned after missing every practice last week because of a foot injury. It’s unclear how the offensive line will take shape if Wynn is able to return to game action. He started at left tackle in the team’s 10-3 win over the Jets on Nov. 20, when Trent Brown, the usual starter, rode the bench.

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who hurt his shoulder against the Vikings, was also present Sunday.

The Patriots will release their first injury report after Monday’s practice.



Two games, zero punts, and 80 points allowed to the Bills.

Last season, their defense suffered a crash landing from its No. 1 ranking in mid-December to producing the worst performance in NFL history during a 47-17 playoff loss. That drop expedited the team’s fall from a top seed in the AFC playoff picture to a wild-card berth and first-round exit. Ahead of Thursday’s visit from the Bills, the division rivals’ first meeting since last January, Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo admitted those defeats do feel personal.

“I think you have to (take them personally),” Mayo said Saturday.

Mayo noted, though, that the Patriots’ focus is currently on fixing problems that arose in their most recent loss, a 33-26 thriller at Minnesota on Thanksgiving. The Patriots allowed Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson to go off for 139 yards and a touchdown. Facing an adaptive Buffalo offense, the coaching staff recognizes the Bills will attack those weaknesses until they’re fixed, especially with a capable No. 1 receiver in Stefon Diggs.

“It all runs through the quarterback (Josh Allen) and also through Diggs. But in saying that, you know, they are a game-plan offense,” Mayo said. “Allen has the ability to extend plays and turn it almost into street ball at any given point. So (it’s) definitely a challenge not only for the front, but also for the back end. And I think the guys are ready to go.”


Patriots defensive play-caller Steve Belichick said Allen has improved from last year, when he went 21 of 25 for 308 yards and five touchdowns in the wild card win. More recently, Allen’s MVP candidacy has cooled with a difficult November, though he’s still completed 63.9% of his passes for 3,183 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this year.

“He’s got such a complete game as a runner, as a passer, inside, outside, short, deep, intermediate, reading defenses, command of the offense,” Belichick said. “He’s been playing at a high level for multiple years now.”

As for Diggs, the Patriots expect him to be featured again Thursday night. He’s averaged more than six catches and 84 yards per game against the Patriots over his career, with five touchdowns in six games, But, like the Vikings, Buffalo boasts a capable No. 2 wideout in Gabriel Davis, who’s caught 33 passes for 650 yards and five touchdowns, plus tight end Dawson Knox and multiple capable running backs.

“I’m sure some of that stuff will be relevant, but last year was last year, last week was last week. So (you’re) not going to put all your eggs in one basket and say like, ‘This is what it’s going to be,’” Belichick said. “You got to kind of take it all into account. And they have so many weapons over there that they can attack in a bunch of different ways. So you gotta respect all that.”

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