N’Keal Harry Continues to Establish Momentum
Prior to training camp, Harry’s agent asked the Patriots to trade his client, but made it clear, the 23-year-old would not hold out.
Harry has not only been present for training camp, but also very effective especially in situations where he gets to use his size and strength to outmuscle defenders for the ball. Newton has noticed, but he believes there is still a ton more Harry can accomplish once he gains more confidence and comfortability with the offense.
During a media session on Thursday, Newton said:
I’ve always had the confidence in Dough Boy (Harry) to be what he is. He’s still not scratching the surface. He’s believing it, and you guys are seeing it, which is good for his confidence. But nevertheless he’s taking the initiative and he’s more comfortable. I think before the play is even called, he understands the personnel groupings, he understands what Josh is trying to do to him and for him — and with him. And I think that’s important. Once he understands that piece, that’s when the game can kind of slow down for him and it just becomes running a great route and catching the football.
The reviews on Harry’s training camp performance have been almost unanimously positive.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss described a recent “did you see that” play from Harry and Newton in training camp.
One of the biggest roars from the crowd at New England Patriots training camp this week was the result of a play from someone who recently said he didn’t want to be with the team. Wide receiver N’Keal Harry made a 30-yard, back-shoulder catch in a one-on-one passing drill, twisting his body in the air before his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame hit the ground with a thud. Boom! It was a “did you see that?” training camp moment, with the crowd’s reaction creating a palpable buzz and sparking a question: Could Harry, the 2019 first-round draft pick who hasn’t met draft-slot expectations (45 catches and four TDs in two seasons), possibly author an unexpected comeback story with a team his agent said hasn’t been a good fit?
Pat’s Pulpit’s Bernd Buchmasser said Harry has looked like the Patriots’ best wide receiver in training camp over the past few days. He wrote:
The 23-year-old, after all, has been one of the big winners of New England’s first week of training camp. While he did have a comparatively quiet first few days, he has looked like the team’s best wide receiver as of late: Harry caught a combined eight passes during competitive team drills over the last three sessions, while also looking impressive during 1-on-1s. Now in his third training camp as a Patriot, Harry is looking better than he ever has.
That’s a far cry from some of the things that used to be said about Harry at this time of the year the last two seasons.
Could Harry Wind Up Dropping His Trade Request?
At the root, it appears Harry was mostly in search of playing time and positive performances. While the Patriots weren’t really the ones standing in his way the past two years, that’s neither here nor there at this point.
What matters most is the result.
If Harry can play and succeed, there is a good chance he may back off his desire to be traded. If nothing else, the Patriots can simply not honor his wish, and have him take the field performing to the best of his abilities. Harry is still under contract through the 2022 season.
At this point, whatever he provides is a bonus considering the team’s roster didn’t appear to be built with an idea of Harry being a major contributor. As it is, Harry could be another dependable weapon most didn’t anticipate coming into his own.
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