In his third season, N'Keal Harry has put together his best training camp. A big part of it has simply been staying healthy, but another has been his consistency as he's been catching everything thrown in his direction.
"I feel like I've been taking really good care of my body, feeling good out there and I'm just trying to stack the days," said Harry after another impressive practice. "Just get a little bit better each day. That's just been my main focus this whole training camp, this whole offseason, I had a vision the whole time. Now I'm starting to attack that vision every day."
On Sunday, with Nelson Agholor missing from practice, Harry had an extended opportunity with increased reps and took advantage. Harry had two nice grabs in early periods, the first an over-the-shoulder grab from Mac Jones and the second, a touchdown catch from Cam Newton that drew the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd to that point.
"It's great to have the fans back out here supporting us and, like I said, it's just a couple of examples of the plays I expect myself to make," said Harry. "They see the spectacular, I see those as routine plays for me."
Veteran Matthew Slater, the eldest member of the team, was excited to see Harry making strides in training camp.
"N'Keal is a great kid, I've always enjoyed working with him," said Slater. "He's not gonna quit, he's gonna keep working hard no matter the outcome, just gonna keep his head down, keep grinding.
"I want to see him be successful. I'm glad he's standing his ground and just ignoring the noise and trying to get better."
There's little question the Patriots could use a big season from the 2019 first-rounder. Harry's size stands out amongst the receiver group and he's using it to his advantage in practice, where smaller DBs are struggling to outmuscle him. If Harry can translate a strong camp into a strong season, it would be a huge boost for the Pats offense.
"I couldn't care less what the doubters say," said Harry. "A lot of people are still believing me... and I just wanna prove them right and prove myself right"
5 takeaways from training camp practice no. 10
- Returns and exits were big headlines at Sunday's practice after the players had a day off on Saturday. Ted Karras and Devin Asiasi headlined the group that returned while Nelson Agholor (absent) and Hunter Henry (departed) were not full participants for the first time. Generally the Patriots have had pretty good injury luck so far, but Agholor and Henry are situations worth monitoring.
- With the pads back on there was a lot of work on the run game, even featuring some tackling. It's weird this is just the third padded practice and it still feels like we're waiting for the dog days of summer to hit. Maybe we'll be waiting until next week's joint practices in Philly. Despite the limited contact so far, there should be plenty coming down the road.
- N'Keal Harry had two impressive catches in drills but it was Kristian Wilkerson who bounced back from a drop-filled rainy practice on Thursday. Wilkerson continues to be one of the surprises of camp and has shown good chemistry with both quarterbacks.
- Rookie Christian Barmore showed up in 1-on-1 drills, giving veteran Shaq Mason all he could handle. Even when Barmore isn't winning reps, he's a load to handle for even the biggest and most experienced blockers. His role should continue to increase as it looks like Montravius Adams has an inside track on an interior sub-rusher job, at least until Barmore is ready for more.
- It was another so-so day for the quarterbacks, who each had their nice throws and moments of indecision. With heavy work on the run and screen games, Newton and Jones weren't exactly pressed into heavy duty on Sunday. Newton had the throw of the day Wilkerson, a 50-ish yard bomb. Jones had one of his own deep passes to Harry as the two signal callers continue to trade blows.
The Patriots made some roster moves on Saturday, which unfortunately included season-ending trips to IR for Raekwon McMillan and Dalton Keene. McMillan was starting to come on prior to getting injured and looked as though he might crack the linebacker rotation. Keene looked to be experiencing an extended recovery from some kind of knee issue and was looking up at a newly-stacked tight end group, though he does offer some potential versatility. That will have to wait until 2022.
In turn, the team activated Devin Asiasi from the COVID-19 reserve list and he should jump right into the mix in that tight end group. The team also brought back Cassh Maluia, a 2020 6th-round pick who appeared in nine games for New England last season, playing 76 special teams snaps. Both Asiasi and Maluia were present at Sunday's session.
Quotes of Note
Justin Bethel on the Special Teams potential in 2021:
"It's going to be interesting, we're just adding onto what we had last year. Obviously you wanna keep at the level we were at, and that's all we can do, keep doing working every day. "
Harvey Langi on returning to the Patriots:
"There's a lot of things I remember from being here earlier before being gone for three years. Just keep on keeping on with the playbook, just trying to refresh all the things that I can remember."
Check out photos as the Patriots begin their third week of Training Camp on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021.