The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting life all over the United States, and the National Football League is no exception. The pre-draft process has mostly moved to video conference calls with pro days and individual workouts canceled, and the offseason workouts that were scheduled to begin later this month have already been postponed indefinitely. Players, meanwhile, have to get creative to make sure they stay in shape.
New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is the frontrunner to take over the starting spot after the free agency departure of Tom Brady, and wide receiver N’Keal Harry are also already preparing for the upcoming 2020 season even though no official team workouts are in sight just yet. The two youngsters, who were both drafted by the Patriots last year, are still staying in close contact during these uncertain times.
“I talked to Stidham the other day to make sure we read the [passing game] script,” Harry told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche earlier this week when addressing how he would spend an offseason that has been dominated by Covid-19-related stories and scheduling changes that may have continue for quite some time. “If this goes on for a long time and there is no offseason training or OTAs, we’re going to have to meet up and get to work.”
Both Harry and Stidham are projected to play integral roles in the Patriots’ passing game in 2020. Not only might Stidham serve as the team’s starting quarterback, Harry is also expected to emerge from the rotational role he held in 2019: the 32nd overall pick of last year’s draft had a rocky start to his professional career after he hurt his ankle just three snaps into the preseason and later had to be placed on temporary injured reserve.
While New England eventually reactivated him in early November, Harry went on to see only irregular snaps early and eventually settled into the third receiver role — finishing the season with 14 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns as well as five carries for an additional 49 rushing yards. For the Patriots’ inconsistent wide receiver position to improve in 2020, Harry will be needed to make the famous second-year jump.
Being in close contact with the man projected to throw him passes this season is certainly a good step in that direction. The same goes for Stidham: after training in California with his personal quarterback coach Jordan Palmer, the 23-year-old returned to New England before the Coronavirus outbreak turned into a national health emergency. Now, he and Harry might have to find a new location to get together and develop their chemistry.