Don’t give up on New England Patriots 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry just yet.
Harry’s two most important teammates, quarterback Cam Newton and veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman, have not.
The second-year wideout had a breakout performance Sunday night in the Patriots’ 35-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He set career highs with seven catches for 72 yards, building off his performance in Week 1 when he set previous career highs with five catches for 39 yards.
Newton and Harry, or “Doughboy” as his QB likes to call him, might be building a connection that the latter never formed as a rookie with Tom Brady.
“Doughboy has grown in front of everyone’s eyes,” Newton said Sunday night. “For him to gain confidence in himself, I think that’s a start. And I think that’s what he’s doing. I think today’s game was a great indication of that and what he could potentially be. Yet through it all, he still has to keep building to become the best version of himself.”
Harry’s first catch showed impressive concentration and grit as he hauled in a 13-yard pass from Newton while absorbing an illegal helmet-to-helmet shot from Seahawks defensive back Quandre Diggs. He gained 50 of his 72 yards in the fourth quarter as the Patriots attempted to mount a late comeback. Harry caught a 12-yard pass from Newton that gave New England a shot to score from Seattle’s 1-yard line with three seconds left on the clock.
“He definitely showed a lot of toughness,” Edelman said. “He made a lot of plays out there and we are going to need that from him. He showed that he can go out and make plays consistently — tough plays, hard plays, took some bang-bang shots. I am so proud of him for going out and playing like that. We’ve all wanted him to come out and play and he’s been getting better and better each week.
“That was a great performance on him. I don’t know what the future will tell. If he keeps on working, I think he’s going to be a really good football player, just got to keep on working. He’s grown up a lot this year I feel becoming a professional, owning, getting his work in, playing multiple positions. He’s doing well in the run game, doing well in the pass game. I am very proud of him and the way he played.”
Harry only managed 9 yards per catch and 6 yards per target, but he also proved he could make plays downfield with receptions of 17, 13 and 12 yards. The Patriots have been trying to get the ball to Harry in space on screen passes, but he only really got going Sunday night when New England let him spread his legs.
The Seahawks took wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who caught four passes for 92 yards with a touchdown Sunday night, 32 picks after Harry in the 2019 NFL Draft. Harry couldn’t quite outplay Metcalf on Sunday night, but there’s reason to be hopeful for Harry’s future after his last two games.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images