Embattled Patriots WR Got the “Short End of the Stick” Sunday

Getty NKeal Harry

The New England Patriots drafted N’Keal Harry in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and quite frankly, very little has gone right in the NFL for the soon-to-be 23-year-old through one-plus seasons, which have included a total of 15 games.

While most are hesitant to say the “B” word, it’s beginning to feel as though Harry might be a bust.

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Harry Gets a Break

Few are willing to, but the Patriots coaches did give Harry a break on what appeared to be two rather large penalties called against the embattled young wide receiver during Sunday’s loss on the road against the Houston Texans.

Officials whistled Harry for penalties twice during crucial drives for the Patriots, but as it turns out, according to Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi, those penalties should have gone against Harry’s teammates and not him.

Unfortunately, I think N’Keal got called on those penalties, and it wasn’t N’Keal,” Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi said Friday in a video conference. “I think Damiere (Byrd) actually had committed a penalty, and Jakobi (Meyers) held on the penalty. So the calls were accurate. … I think N’Keal got the short end of the stick on that one, but they were the right calls, so we’ve just got to do a better job executing.

Lombardi is likely correct here, but make no mistake about it, the coach is also going to bat here for a struggling player who doesn’t need another negative mark against him at this point.

Harry has battled injuries in both of his seasons as a professional, and even when he’s on the field, he seems to struggle to make an impact. He looks the part of a stud receiver, but unfortunately for him and the Patriots, he has been dramatically outperformed by other players taking after him in the draft who also play his position.

The Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf is blossoming into a star and the Tennessee Titans’ A.J. Brown is looking like a more athletic version of Pittsburgh Steelers’ great Hines Ward every Sunday. Even on Harry’s team, undrafted second-year player Jakobi Meyers has had a breakout campaign.

Last week, Damiere Byrd shined bright with a career game in a losing effort. The spotlight is on Harry even stronger at this point because of the success of his lesser-regarded teammates.

Patriots Are Waiting on His Breakout Game

With Meyers and Byrd seemingly having found their footing with Cam Newton, it’s now Harry’s turn to make a positive impact. He has one touchdown reception this year, but it came from Jarrett Stidham during Week 4 when Newton was out with COVID-19. Stidham came on to replace the ineffective Brian Hoyer and Harry made an excellent grab in one of the few bright spots of the season for him.

He appears to be getting healthier, so Patriots coaches and fans will be watching Harry closely on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals to see if he can do what Meyers and Byrd have done over the past three weeks, and that’s become a factor in the passing game.

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