The New England Patriots’ Week 1 win was a roller coaster ride for N’Keal Harry, but there has been far more attention focused on the valleys of the wide receiver’s season opener than time spent on the peaks.
He has a good teammate in quarterback Cam Newton who was there to defend Harry to the media on Wednesday.
“I spoke with N’Keal, and let’s just put a lot of things into perspective here,” Newton said. “Did he have a good game? Yes, he did. I think that one play overshadowed the production that he did have. He bailed me out on a play, on an inaccurate pass that he came down with and got the first down. He did pretty good in the run game. He had a couple contested catches. And all that was kind of for naught because a lot of people just focused on the fumble.
“And granted, he would be the first person to tell you that he knows that’s unacceptable. But obviously, when you just put things into perspective and you call an apple an apple and a spade a spade, it was just one mistake. Him still being a young player trying to come into his own, things like that will happen. You just want them to be minimized as much as possible, but he’s making leaps and strides as everyone would expect him to (do). He’s growing up into his best self, and for him, after chatting with him, he knows. He knows he has to make practice game-like, and that’s the only thing you can imagine.”
Harry caught five passes for 37 yards. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound receiver also went down easily on his first catch of the game when he was tackled by 5-foot-10, 181-pound Dolphins cornerback Jamal Perry.
Harry, 22, previously said Newton, 31, has been like a big brother to him. Newton compared Harry to other high-profile players he’s mentored through the first nine seasons of his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
“Obviously, being in Carolina, I’ve had a N’Keal in my life for as long as my career has existed,” Newton said. “Being a high-invested draft pick, dating back to Kelvin Benjamin to Devin Funchess — those young guys. Me also being young at the time, too. Then you invest in Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey.
“So it’s nothing new to come on a team and you have a young talent at receiver and trying to morph him into the best player he can possibly be. And I know N’Keal is buying in, not only to my theory and methods but also to the team’s, as well. Plays like that are going to happen. We just hope that’s the only time it will happen.”
It’s a good sign for the Patriots that Newton is willing to overlook Harry’s mistakes. It seems Harry’s previous quarterback, Tom Brady, wasn’t so forgiving.
Harry caught just 12 passes for 105 yards with two touchdowns in seven games with Brady as a rookie. Harry is already on pace for 80 catches and 624 yards with Newton.
If Newton is still high on Harry, then the young wideout still should have a bright future in New England.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images