Coming off a sophomore season that saw him catch only 33 passes and end the year as the New England Patriots’ number three wide receiver, N’Keal Harry seemingly found himself in “do or die” territory. Based on his training camp performance so far, however, it seems as if he is emphatically going for the “do” this summer.
The former first-round draft pick was one of the standout performers of the Patriots’ first ten practices, and proving himself a big-play weapon for quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones. After two disappointing seasons, he finally appears to be turning the corner.
Harry himself seems to be aware of this development as well. Speaking with reporters after Sunday’s training camp practice, he mentioned that it would all be “coming together” for him.
“This whole training camp, this whole offseason, I had a vision the whole time. I’m starting to attack that vision every day,” Harry said. “I feel good. I feel more agile. I feel faster. So, it’s just all coming together at this point.”
While Harry is now trending in the right direction, that has not always been the case. The 32nd selection of the 2019 draft, he missed significant time as a rookie due to an ankle ailment and never found his proverbial footing after returning off injured reserve midway through the season. He did have his moments, but they were few and far between.
Year 2 started off better, with Harry catching 18 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown over the first four weeks of the season. However, Harry was unable to keep his early season success going and eventually caught only 15 more throws for 143 yards and another score over the Patriots’ final twelve games. When the year came to an end, Harry was just the third wide receiver option behind Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd.
Two weeks into training camp, however, he has shown why he a highly-touted prospect just two years ago — and why he might have a future in New England after all despite his agent’s recent trade request.
The request has naturally created a lot attention. Harry’s focus, however, lies on the field rather than off it.
“Everything that’s going on off the field that’s really not my focus at all,” he said. “I’m focused on becoming a better football player each day. Whatever happens off the field happens. I’m not going to worry about that right now.”
Harry is apparently also not worried about those that have doubted him the last two years.
“For me, honestly, I could care less what the doubters think,” the 23-year-old said. “All I know is there are a lot of people that are still supporting me, and who still believe in me. I want to prove those people right. My family included, my friends, my agent, everybody, I just want to prove them right and prove myself right.”
At this point in mid-August, he is doing just. The question, however, is whether or not he can sustain his momentum this time around and finally live up to his first-round pedigree.