FOXBORO, Mass. — Things certainly seem to be trending in the right direction for New England Patriots rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry to take on a bigger role in the postseason.
As the Patriots get set to face the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round Saturday night, Harry said Wednesday he’s “very comfortable” with the Patriots’ complex offensive playbook. That’s showing up in his snap count and target share in recent weeks. Harry played just 3 percent of offensive snaps in Week 14. He played over 50 percent of offensive snaps in the final three weeks of the season.
Harry received 24.1 percent of Brady’s targets in Week 17. That was up from 9.1 percent in Week 16, 13.8 percent in Week 15 and 2.8 percent in Week 14.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also seemed willing to give Harry a bigger role in the playoffs.
“I wanna do whatever I gotta do to help the team whether it’s increasing my role or decreasing it,” Harry said. “I don’t really care what it is. I just want to win the game.”
Harry was encouraged by receiving a career-high seven targets Sunday despite the Patriots’ Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. He caught three passes for 29 yards and carried the ball once for 9 yards.
“Just to see that they trust me a little bit more,” Harry said. “I just gotta get the most out of my opportunities.”
Harry acknowledged the Patriots do have a complicated offense. He doesn’t believe too much has been put on his plate as a rookie, however.
“Everything they’re asking of not only myself but everybody else is is manageable and stuff we can handle,” Harry said. “We’ve got a lot of smart players. We have to be ready for anything they throw at us and everything they expect us to do.”
Harry has been a master of gaining yards after catch and contact this season, a skill that goes back to his college days. He’s aware of his limitations and knows he has to play to his strengths, which is just that.
“Just using my strength. I’m a bigger type of receiver so I gotta use that to get open,” Harry said. “I’m not as quick as guys like Phil (Dorsett) and Jakobi (Meyers), so I’ve got to use my strength.”
Harry has noticed that cornerbacks grab bigger receivers more, so sometimes he has to combat that with a subtle push himself.
“It’s more surface area for them to get their hands on, so I have to be just as aggressive if not more aggressive,” Harry said.
The Patriots have been inconsistent offensively throughout the 2019 season. If they’re going to figure it out in the playoffs, then Harry and fellow wideout Mohamed Sanu have to step up. Harry seems ready to emerge.