The New England Patriots’ replenished receiving corps will look to provide a boost that starting quarterback Cam Newton didn’t have at his disposal in 2020.
While it’ll be intriguing to see how newcomers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne fit into the Patriots’ offensive scheme, they’re pretty much locked into starting roles alongside last season’s breakout star Jakobi Meyers and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
What isn’t as clear, however, is who will emerge as the Patriots’ fourth WR.
After all, in today’s NFL, most of the championship contenders (like the Chiefs and Bucs, to name a few) have at least four receivers who are capable of dominating any given game.
The Patriots are hopeful N’Keal Harry will fulfill that role after two lackluster seasons to begin his career. Taking that into account, the 2019 first-round pick needed a full offseason in the worst possible way to convince the coaching staff he’s deserving of a starting role.
Unfortunately for Harry, things are off to a rough start in that regard as insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic is reporting the third-year WR suffered a calf injury at Tuesday’s practice.
Patriots WR N’Keal Harry cannot afford to miss time with injury.
At this point, fans would be hard-pressed not to have sympathy for Harry, who can’t seem to catch a break in the injury department. Every time it’s looked as though the 23-year-old hits a positive run of form at camp, he suffers an injury that derails all that progress.
While Harry was able to snag a roster spot in each of his first two seasons, that can largely be attributed to the Patriots’ bottom-barrel arsenal of pass catchers. The same cannot be said this year following the signings of Agholor, Bourne, Henry and Smith, meaning that Harry could be on the outside looking in if he doesn’t impress (or isn’t available) during mini and training camp.
The consensus buzz out of OTAs and minicamp suggested the former Arizona State star was leaving a positive impact on New England’s coaching staff. However, his apparent calf injury creates an opportunity for one of Gunner Olszewski, Isaiah Zuber, Marvin Hall, or seventh-round pick Tre Nixon to leapfrog him in the pecking order (if they haven’t already done so).
We desperately want Harry to succeed with the Patriots, but the chances of that happening decrease significantly with each passing injury and each blown opportunity to assert himself.
Any Patriots fans who feel the same way should be crossing their fingers this calf injury was nothing more than a small tweak, because a potential lengthy spell on the sidelines could seal Harry’s fate as far as making the final 53-man roster.