FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sounds quite different when talking about New England’s veteran receivers versus the team’s three rookie wideouts.
The Patriots have three experienced players in their wide receiver corps with Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett leading the way. Then they have two undrafted rookies in Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. N’Keal Harry, the Patriots 2019 first-round pick, can be activated off of injured reserve this week.
“If you look at the three veterans that we have with Mohamed and Julian and Phillip, those guys are — it’s just very good consistent, dependable players who have a lot of productivity,” Brady said. “And then we have three really young players. We have Gunner and Jakobi and now N’Keal. So, it’s kind of a different mix — three veterans, three rookies, and I think those rookies need to rely on the veterans to really show them the way. Glad that room has kind of provided leadership that they have. We’re going to need everybody. I think that’s what we realize. We’re at the halfway point of the year. There’s a lot of football left. Everybody in each room is really counted on. There’s no wasted space, so everybody has to bring something along with them. Those rookies have to look up to the older guys to show them the way.”
Brady tempered expectations a bit when asked about Harry, who only played one preseason game and started the regular season on injured reserve.
“He’s missed a lot of football, missed a lot of training camp, missed eight regular-season games, so he’s just got to try to work at it every day,” Brady said. “It’s going to be up to him to put the effort in. Everyone’s here to help him, but you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to do it and earn it and earn the trust of your teammates and coaches and stuff. It’s good to have him out there.”
Brady was vague when asked if he expects Harry to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
“Whoever’s out there, that’s who I play with,” Brady said. “I don’t make the decisions who’s up and who’s down and so forth. …
“It’s tough to project that. You guys can project that. I’m not supposed to be projecting. … I’m not going to tell anybody what I think, certainly. I think it’s really up to each individual player and if he’s active and he gets an opportunity, then you have to make plays. But I don’t know.”
Brady channeled his inner Jimmy Garoppolo when asked about his second week of working with Sanu.
“Good. Good,” Brady said. “We’re on a roll. Let’s keep it going, baby.”
Brady compared working with a veteran receiver to a rookie when asked if he pushed for the Patriots to trade for Sanu last week.
“I think everybody liked Mohamed. So, yeah, everybody liked him. Everybody liked him, so that’s why he’s here,” Brady said. “It’s great to have him. I’m excited for him. Again, the more we work together, the better it’s going to be. And it’s hard to be on the same page within a week. So, we’re just going to try to communicate through things and talk through them. There’s a lot of things that come up in a game and practice, pass games, things that he’s done, things that we’ve done that football’s a game about anticipation.
“The good part is a veteran player, you know how to play football. It’s not like a rookie that they don’t quite — they don’t know what the real expectation is. He’s been a part of some great offenses. It’s really incorporating him to what we do and him learning really the terminology so that he can play fast, and we can play with anticipation together. Then he’s running the routes where I expect him to be, so I can play with anticipation and then you gain trust and you gain confidence and then once you gain confidence, you can go out and execute really well. It’s hard to skip anything in that process. It’s just the reality of football. You try to think it’s going to come together in a day or two, those are probably unrealistic expectations. But every time we go out there we’re trying to be a little bit better and lead to better expectations.”
Brady essentially is saying it’s a lot easier to incorporate a veteran receiver into the mix over a rookie. Sanu played 37 snaps last week and caught two passes for 23 yards.
Harry has been with the Patriots since April. He’s been attending meetings, and he’s at least got a base knowledge of the team’s playbook. But he has almost no NFL experience. We’ll find out by Sunday night if he’s activated off of IR and active for the game.