FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman shared some interesting comments Sunday regarding N’Keal Harry’s training camp absences.
Harry, the New England Patriots’ top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, sat out three consecutive practices this past week before returning to the field Sunday. The second-year receiver then struggled on his first day back, catching just one pass on five targets in team drills, dropping two balls and appearing either injured or fatigued late in practice.
Edelman, the leader of the Patriots’ receiving corps, wouldn’t give his review of Harry’s camp performance, calling that “a coach question.” But he did stress the importance of being available at this time of year.
“I think training camp is extremely valuable, especially this year, when we have such crazy turnover,” Edelman said after Sunday’s practice. “So regardless of who it is — any time I don’t get to practice, or anyone doesn’t get to practice, that’s definitely very tough.
“Because this is where you begin to gain trust from your teammates. You show accountability. You show them how dependable you are through being able to take things from the classroom to drills, and the drills to the team drills. Team practice. It’s one thing to go out and do something right for yourself. I think another reason why I like to go out and do something right or work hard at something is to show my teammates that you’re out here working your tail off for them.
“Because ultimately, it’s 11 guys. It’s the ultimate team sport. Eleven guys have to do something right for 5-6 seconds. And if one guy doesn’t do something right, it could make the play jeopardized. I think it’s tough. But he was out here (Sunday). You can ask Coach on how he’s doing. I think N’Keal’s always working hard. It’s definitely always tough for anyone to go out and miss practice.”
Harry dealt with multiple injuries during his first Patriots training camp, one of which wound up sidelining him for the first half of his rookie season and stunted his development.
The Arizona State product went on to appear in New England’s final eight games — including one postseason contest — but caught just 14 passes on 31 targets for 126 yards and two touchdowns while adding another six carries for 56 yards. His 45.2 percent catch rate ranked 87th among 88 players with at least 30 targets during that span.
Harry spoke last week about slimming down this offseason, improving his footwork and expanding his knowledge of the Patriots’ playbook. He also caught passes from all three of New England’s starting quarterback hopefuls — Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer — in the weeks leading up to training camp.
“I went into this offseason just attacking and just trying to improve all facets of my game,” Harry said.
Edelman commended several of his fellow Patriots wideouts during his post-practice video conference, shouting out Gunner Olszewski, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, Devin Ross and Isaiah Zuber when asked how New England’s receiver room is coming together.
“I think we have a bunch of guys competing very hard,” Edelman said. “Working their tails off. Coach (Mick) Lombardi is doing a great job getting us prepared. There is a lot of good things, and there’s a whole lot of things we have to continue to work on, myself included. So that’s what this part of the season is about.”
The Patriots’ regular-season opener (Sept. 13 vs. the Miami Dolphins) is three weeks from Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots