Patriots Make Room for First-Round Pick by Releasing Tight End

bill belichick

Getty Bill Belichick.

The 2019 trade deadline passed without any additional deals for the New England Patriots. But it appears they will still be getting their much-needed receiving help soon.

On Tuesday, the Patriots released tight end Eric Tomlinson after just two games with the team, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The likely corresponding move for New England would be activating rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry off injured reserve.

Tomlinson spent two games with the Patriots filling in as mainly a run-blocking tight end for the injured Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. With Izzo nearing a return and LaCosse not far behind, the Patriots didn’t need a fourth tight end on the roster for much longer.

Although Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick hasn’t been too vocal about the possibility of activating N’Keal Harry for their Week 9 contest against the Ravens, the rookie receiver has been practicing for two weeks following a stint on injured reserve.

Harry was taken 32nd overall in last April’s draft by New England, the first Patriots receiver drafted in the first round since 1996. Despite dazzling early in training camp, an injury in his preseason debut derailed the start of his rookie campaign.

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Is Harry Ready?

It’s not often people question whether a first-round pick is ready for the speed of NFL football. But for a player like Harry who has been out of action for a couple months, his adjustment to NFL football will need to be made on the practice field and on the fly.

Patriots’ receivers coach Joe Judge provided a bit of an update on Harry’s progression since rejoining the team for practice two weeks ago:

“There’s a lot of things he had to rework to get back in the flow of things. The speed of the game, the timing with the quarterbacks, reading the coverage, and making adjustments. You can’t jump back into where you left off when you miss that amount of time. It’s different than running routes in rehab with the trainers, and then all a sudden you put Stephon Gilmore across from him in one-on-ones. You have to get used to the speed of the game, reading defenses out, making adjustments.”

A Big-Time Playmaker

Whenever Harry is officially activated, one thing is certain: the kid will be one of New England’s most electrifying playmakers.

That much was obvious in preseason when he made a few one-handed grabs in one-on-one drills at practice and then made a pair of acrobatic grabs in a game against Detroit.

Given his size, speed, catch-range, and strength, Harry can be used in a variety of ways. He’ll likely see snaps in the red zone on similar routes to what the Patriots had Rob Gronkowski running during his time in New England. And on regular sets, Harry could find himself filling in for Josh Gordon over the middle on deep balls.

Instead of trading for a receiver or tight end at the deadline, the Patriots did the smart thing and just waited for their star-in-the-making to get healthy.

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