FOXBORO, Mass. — The most impressive reception of New England Patriots training camp to date came courtesy of N’Keal Harry on Sunday.
During 1-on-1 drills between wide receivers and defensive backs, Harry used a slick mid-route move to slip cornerback Joejuan Williams, then used every inch of his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to haul in a diving touchdown catch.
The highlight-reel grab prompted a roar from the training camp crowd in attendance and an emphatic celebration from quarterback Cam Newton, who sprinted downfield to celebrate with his pass-catcher.
It was another standout moment in what’s been a very strong summer for the much-maligned third-year wideout. But Harry downplayed its significance, calling the catch a “routine play” that he expects himself to make.
“I feel like that’s what I’m going to do,” he said after practice. “Any ball that’s in my vicinity, I feel like I have to do anything in my power to get it. So balls like that, I’m going to dive for it, and I’m going to give my all to get there. I’ll do anything to catch that ball. …
“As long as it’s within my reach, I feel like if I get my hands on it, I should catch ’em. That’s just one example of that.”
Following underwhelming showings in his first two NFL seasons and a public offseason trade request, Harry has been one of the stars of Patriots camp thus far. The 2019 first-round draft pick said this has “definitely” been the best string of practices of his New England career.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel more agile, I feel faster, so it’s all coming together at this point.”
He added: “For me, honestly, I could care less what he doubters think. All I know is there’s a lot of people that are still supporting me and still believe in me, so I want to prove those people right. My family included, my friends, my agent, everybody. I want to prove them right and prove myself right.”
It remains to be seen whether the Patriots will keep Harry on their 53-man roster or trade him before Week 1. He insisted last week that he “absolutely” would be happy if he still was with the Patriots at the start of the season.
“Everything that?s going on off the field, that?s really not my focus at all,” Harry said Sunday. “Like I said, I’m focused on becoming a better football player each day, and whatever happens off the field, happens. I’m not going to worry about that right now.”