N'Keal Harry

Patriots Activate WR N’Keal Harry

The Patriots constantly-changing receiver corps will be adding an intriguing weapon. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that New England has activated rookie N’Keal Harry off the injured reserve.

The first-round rookie started practicing with the Patriots in mid-October, meaning they had until this afternoon to add him to their active roster. The Arizona State product was relatively quiet during the preseason, hauling in only a pair of catches for 36 yards. He later landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

Back in September, it was uncertain if Harry would even play during his rookie year, as the team was rostering the likes of Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, and Josh Gordon. Now, the team’s receiving depth chart is led by Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and the recently-acquired Mohamed Sanu. While the rookie is unlikely to unseat any of those three, he’ll at the very least provide Tom Brady with another tall (6-foot-4) red-zone target.

Harry was a standout during his three years at Arizona State, including a 2018 campaign where he hauled in 73 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns. He ended up being selected by New England with the 32nd-overall pick, making him the second wideout off the board (behind Ravens draft pick Marquise Brown). He was also the first receiver to be taken in the first round during Bill Belichick‘s tenure with the organization.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Designate N’Keal Harry For Return

N’Keal Harry is on course to return for the Patriots. Or, more accurately, he’s slated for his debut. 

On Tuesday, Harry took the practice field for the Pats, which is the first step towards returning from IR. Per league rules, he’ll be able to practice for the next two weeks before becoming eligible to play.

Harry has been sidelined since suffering an injury in the preseason opener. It was an unfortunate setback for the Arizona State product, who was taken with the No. 32 overall pick to become Bill Belichick‘s highest-selected wide receiver ever.

His pending return comes at a good time as Julian Edelman (chest), Josh Gordon (knee), and Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) are all banged up. The Pats also have Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski on the WR depth chart for support, but Harry offers higher upside than both.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Place N’Keal Harry On IR

The Patriots are placing rookie first-round pick N’Keal Harry on injured reserve, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The wide receiver has been battling an ankle injury all summer and he’ll need at least the rest of the fall to heal up.

The good news is that Harry is still expected to return this season. Per league rules, Harry must sit out a minimum of eight weeks before suiting up.

Harry has been sidelined since suffering an injury in the preseason opener. You wouldn’t know it from talking to him, but Bill Belichick is enthused to see what he can do once he’s on the field. Before taking the Arizona State product, Belichick had never before used a first round pick on a wide receiver.

Without Harry, look for the Patriots to lean even more on Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. That is, if Edelman’s thumb heals up in time to take on the Steelers on Sunday.

Patriots To Bring Back Demaryius Thomas?

The Patriots cut free agent signee Demaryius Thomas yesterday, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the door is open for Thomas to re-sign with the team. Indeed, Reiss says “there is an expectation” that Thomas will return to New England.

The longtime Broncos star is on the back nine of his career, but his strong route running could make him a productive role player in the Pats’ precision offense. He is still working his way back from an Achilles tear that he suffered in December, and he played in the Patriots’ preseason finale Thursday, his first game action since the injury. He looked good against fringe NFLers, compiling seven catches for 87 yards and two scores.

Reiss suggests that New England’s decision to release Thomas allowed the team to keep punt returner Gunner Olszewski, who, unlike Thomas, would have had to clear waivers if he had been cut. The move also allowed the Pats to include rookie wideout N’Keal Harry on the initial 53-man roster, which will make him eligible to return later in the season if he is forced to go on IR. Harry has been sidelined since suffering an injury in the preseason opener.

But if the Pats do want Thomas back, they could have some competition. A source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the Broncos — whose WR depth chart is generally very green — are interested in a reunion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Bills, Steelers

Bill Belichick did something he had never done before when he drafted N’Keal Harry 32nd overall in April. During his time in New England, the Patriots had never drafted a receiver in the first round before, so they must’ve been high on the Arizona State product. That being said, Harry won’t be handed anything because of his draft status. Plenty of receivers have come and gone without making much of an impact on the Pats, so Nick Underhill of The Athletic tracked a few of them down to see what advice they might have for Harry.

Underhill talked to 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson, 2004 fifth-round pick P.K. Sam, and Chad Johnson, who joined the team toward the end of his career in 2011. Underhill asked them about their advice for working with Belichick and Brady and Jackson, one of the Patriots’ biggest draft busts, had some interesting comments. “Some people say Brady’s an asshole, and he can be at times – everybody can be an asshole at times,” he said. “The guy wants perfection. He wants everything done right. I’m sure he makes his mistakes too, but it’s not like everybody else.”

Jackson said Harry will have to be prepared for a lot, and that he wasn’t ready for it. “I think I went to the wrong organization when I first got drafted,” he said. “They expected a lot from you, which is, of course, OK, but I think they put the expectations a little bit higher than for any type of rookie coming in.” All of them stressed that developing a chemistry and a relationship with Brady were important, with Johnson saying he “didn’t really have time to come in and build that currency with Tom.” The whole piece is worth a read, and provides an interesting glimpse into life on the Patriots. Harry should have an easier time than any of those three did, but it’s not a given.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Bills made overhauling their offensive line a priority this offseason. Josh Allen spent most of his rookie year running for his life, so it makes sense. The team made some high profile signings like Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long, but they also added Quinton Spain. Spain is competing for a starting spot at one of the two guard positions, and his cause got hurt by a thumb injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of spring practices. Fortunately for him, Spain is expected to be ready to go for the start of training camp, per Nate Mendelson of the team’s official site. Spain entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Titans back in 2015, and started at least 13 games in each of the past three years for them. He received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 35th-best guard. Spain is probably a favorite to win a starting job, and Buffalo’s offensive line looks on paper to be a lot better than it was last year.
  • Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers‘ longtime right tackle, was traded to the Cardinals this spring. That means the Steelers will have a new right tackle, and most have assumed it’ll be Matt Feiler. Feiler filled in for an injured Gilbert, and ended up starting ten games last year. But while he’s the favorite, Feiler isn’t taking it for granted and is insisting it’ll be an open competition. “I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler said earlier this offseason, per Mike Prisuta of the team’s official site. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.” “It’s up for grabs,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough battle.” While the comments are interesting and suggest we may have to pay attention to the position in camp, it would still be a surprise if Feiler isn’t starting Week 1. While he took the majority of first-team reps, Prisuta does note that he rotated some with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor during spring work. Feiler is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Bloomsburg University, who had only started one game before last year.
  • In case you missed it, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders is looking uncertain for the start of the season.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Harry, Harris

Let’s take a quick swing around the AFC East:

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Jets may have their new GM by the end of the week, and in keeping with all other reports we’ve heard to date, he says that Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas is expected to be the guy. Gang Green began their meeting with Douglas last night, and the visit is continuing today.
  • Cimini says the weakest position group on the Jets‘ roster may be the cornerbacks. The position was suspect last year, and New York did little to address those deficiencies this offseason. The free agent cupboard is predictably pretty bare at this point, but the team could still reunite with Morris Claiborne, and the Jets will surely be on the lookout for other clubs’ cap casualties.
  • The Patriots have typically deployed smaller, shiftier players as their punt returners, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the club has tried first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry (6-2, 228) in that role during OTAs. Reiss says Harry, who returned 14 punts over his final two collegiate seasons — including a 92-yard house call — has acquitted himself well thus far.
  • Dolphins 2017 first-rounder Charles Harris finds himself at the top of the team’s edge rusher depth chart despite his disappointing performance over his first two years in the league. But as Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com writes, new head coach Brian Flores is encouraged by what he has seen thus far. This offseason, Harris has spent more time upright as an OLB instead of with his hand in the dirt as a traditional 4-3 DE, and that may better suit his strengths. Flores said, “I can’t say enough good things about [Harris]. … Honestly, I don’t care about his past. I care about right now. … He’s smart. He’s hard-working. He’s got a lot of ability.” If Harris does not begin to live up to his potential, he may not be in Miami in 2020.
  • We wrote earlier today that the Dolphins hope to trade Reshad Jones.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Harry, Dolphins, Mills, Ravens, Snead

There was a lot of talk this offseason about how the Patriots’ receiving corp was looking a little thin. Chris Hogan left in free agency and Rob Gronkowski retired, so Tom Brady‘s group of pass-catchers was a bit depleted. New England moved swiftly to address the issue, taking N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State in the first round of last month’s draft. They nabbed Harry at 32nd overall, but they apparently would’ve been willing to take him much higher.

Bill Belichick told Todd Graham, one of Harry’s former college coaches, that the team “had him graded a lot higher than where he was taken in the first round,” per Jeff Howe of The Athletic. Graham spoke to Belichick the night of the draft, and the Patriots coach told him they “were so fortunate that he was still there.” It’s the first time in Belichick’s 19 years at the helm in New England that they’ve taken a receiver in the first round, so they clearly had to be very high on him.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Dolphins are rebuilding, whether they want to admit it or not. We still don’t know whether Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick will win the starting quarterback job, but we do have a bit more clarity as to who will be one of their starting tackles. Jordan Mills “has come on in the past week and the job is clearly his to lose,” at right tackle, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Dolphins let Ja’Wuan James walk in free agency, meaning they need a new starter opposite Laremy Tunsil, and it looks like Mills is going to be the guy. Mills started all 16 games each of the last three seasons for the Bills, but Buffalo didn’t have much interest in retaining him. He had a poor season last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-best tackle. He signed a one-year, $3MM deal with Miami just a few weeks ago.
  • The Ravens’ receiving corp is going to look a lot different in 2019, as they made a lot of changes in preparation for Lamar Jackson‘s first full season as the starter. They let John Brown and Michael Crabtree walk in free agency, and drafted two new receivers in the first three rounds last month. They’ll need some veterans to provide some stability with all the young guys around, and one of the vets they’re reportedly counting on to step up this year is Willie Snead. Unfortunately Snead hasn’t been able to be a full-go this offseason, as he had surgery on his finger after the season ended, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zrebiec writes that the Ravens are “taking it easy with him.” Snead had a productive year last season, finishing with 62 catches for 651 yards and a touchdown.

Patriots Sign Rookie N’Keal Harry

N’Keal Harry is officially a member of the Patriots. On Tuesday, the Pats signed the first-round wide receiver to his rookie contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). In accordance with his slot at No. 32 overall, Harry will earn $10MM+ over the course of his four-year deal with a signing bonus of nearly $5.4MM. 

[RELATED: 2019 NFL Draft Results By Team]

Wide receiver was one of the Patriots’ biggest needs heading into the draft, and they addressed that area with the Arizona State product. He’s not the most explosive receiving prospect we’ve seen, but he’s a hard-nosed competitor who has a knack for winning 50/50 balls against defensive backs on the outside and linebackers on the inside. He’s also been lauded for his run-blocking skills, which likely endeared him to coach Bill Belichick.

Harry was one of the nation’s top prospects coming out of high school and he backed up the hype right away as he led all freshmen with 58 catches. Things only progressed from there. Last year, Harry racked up 73 catches for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Notes: Giants, Haskins, Metcalf

The Giants will host Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on a top 30 visit on Monday and Tuesday, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). After the G-Men brought out the big guns for Haskins’ Pro Day, chatter is building about the Giants possibly targeting the signal caller with the No. 6 overall pick.

Fully expected to become a top-10 pick, Haskins also met with the Broncos (No. 10) and the Redskins (No. 15) last week. The Giants appear to be well in range, but teams tend to move up and reach for stud QBs. The Giants also have the firepower necessary to move up for Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, but they may prefer to spread the wealth and address other areas instead, including the pass rush.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf visited the Ravens on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Metcalf could give them a much-needed shot in the arm at WR, but it’s not a given that he’ll be available when they’re called to the podium at No. 22. For now, their WR consists of new addition Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, Chris Moore, and 2018 draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott.
  • Speaking of the Ravens‘ WR need, they’ll host Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown on Monday, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). This year, the Ravens are set to pick at No. 22 overall with no picks in the second round due to last year’s Lamar Jackson trade.
  • More from Rapoport, who notes that Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell is visiting with the Bengals. Campbell is a very unlikely target for Cincinnati at No. 11 overall, but he could be a candidate for their second-round choice at No. 42. Last year, Campbell broke out with 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  • Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary will huddle up with the Seahawks and Raiders this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.
  • Arizona State wide receiver will meet with the N’Keal Harry 49ers on Monday before traveling to the Seahawks, Pelissero hears. Projections for Harry are all over the board, but he appears to be a late-first to early-second round type.
  • Washington tackle Kaleb McGary will visit the Seahawks on Monday and the Falcons on Tuesday, Schefter hears (Twitter link). The Falcons’ No. 14 pick would probably be a bit high for McGary, who projects as a right tackle at the next level, but a trade-down scenario could bring him to Atlanta.
  • The Patriots have done “extra pre-draft” work on Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson, both of whom visited recently (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Versatile Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford spent Friday visiting with the Bengals, who pick No. 11 (Twitter link via Rapoport). Ford was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and helped Oklahoma win Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s best offensive line.

NFL Draft Rumors: Brown, Harry, Cardinals

This week’s combine re-checks produced very positive news for Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Brown, who has been out of a boot for weeks, was given the thumbs up on his surgically-repaired foot.

Despite the injury, the 5’9″ receiver is widely projected as a first round pick. Last year, Brown put himself on the NFL radar with 75 catches for 1,318 yards and ten touchdowns.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry will work out for the Cardinals on April 20 at ASU, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss (on Twitter). Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, GM Steve Keim, and president Michael Bidwill will be among those on hand for Harry’s only private NFL workout. Harry isn’t a contender for the No. 1 overall pick, but he could be a candidate for the Cardinals’ first pick of the second round (No. 33 overall)
  • The Rams are meeting with Clemson defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell on campus, Rapoport tweets. Both players are expected to go in the first round, but the Rams may be out of range at No. 31 overall.
  • Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams will visit the Jaguars on Thursday, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).
  • Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson will work out for the Falcons on Thursday, Rapoport tweets. The converted wide receiver came away with two interceptions in each of the last two seasons and could go as high as the second round.