For rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry, the light could turn green Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
But expectations remain tempered for the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft heading into the New England Patriots’ meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.
That’s part of the deal, as quarterback Tom Brady explained Wednesday during WEEI’s “25 for 25” to benefit the American Diabetes Association.
“What I think we’ve done over the years is not project expectations for people that put them in an unfair position, that people are expecting things that are not in my control,” Brady told WEEI’s Christian Fauria, Glenn Ordway and Lou Merloni. “I mean, if you want to ask someone like N’Keal how he feels he’s doing, you should ask him. But to ask me, and then put unfair expectations on a younger player, I don’t think that’s helpful at all. It’s really up to each individual player, not just N’Keal, because I like N’Keal a lot.”
Harry played three preseason snaps for New England before going to injured reserve as the calendar turned to September. Those snaps brought along a pair of receptions for 36 yards.
The 21-year-old Arizona State product resumed practicing midway through October and was activated to the 53-man roster prior to New England’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens this November.
Harry would then be among the inactives announced prior to kickoff.
But the bye week has passed and 4:25 p.m. ET in Philadelphia is nearing. An official debut could be, as well.
“Everybody’s role is earned. I think that’s been the mark of the Patriots, and that’s part of the culture,” added Brady. “You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to earn a spot, earn a role. And you do that by practice, by earning the trust of your teammates, your coaches, that you can be counted on when the moments are their biggest. Unfortunately for N’Keal, he got hurt early in training camp so he didn’t have the development, when other guys were practicing, for over two months. But he’s working hard.”
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Harry stands on a depth chart that includes Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski and Matthew Slater.
Standings are subject to change.
“He’s extremely hardworking. He wants to do it,” Brady said of Harry. “He’s got a great edge about him – I really love that. I really love his tenacity, and he’s learning every day. He’s working hard to get better, and I think that’s all you can ask of a younger player.”
Over three seasons with the Sun Devils, Harry amassed 3,093 offensive yards and 26 total touchdowns.