New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry returned to practice last week and is able to be activated to the team's 53-man roster this week, which would make him eligible to play Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn't confirm Tuesday if Harry will play in Week 9, but he did offer a positive update on the rookie's progress.
"Well, I think N'Keal's been working hard," Belichick said in a media conference call. "Even though he hasn't been able to participate in practice until recently, he's been able to do other things – train, study, watch film, keep up with the terminology and game plan adjustments that we make. And then more recently, he has been able to get on the field and primarily take scout team reps but also do other things, individual drills and some of the other competitive drills and so forth that we've done. It's definitely improving. It's good to have him back out there and see him working.
"I'd say each day, as you would expect, a little more improvement and confidence and taking things a little bit further than the day before. But he's missed a lot of time. He still has a long way to go. He's definitely trending in the right direction. We just have to evaluate where it is and what helps the team the most here."
Harry was selected by the Patriots with the 32nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He's the first wide receiver Belichick has ever selected in the first round during his 20-year tenure coaching the Pats.
The Arizona State product played a few snaps in New England's first preseason game but was forced to exit in the first half because of an injury. He was placed on injured reserve in September due to an ankle injury and has yet to make his regular season debut. The Patriots signed veteran quarterback Cody Kessler on Monday, which means a roster spot will have to be opened for Harry to be activated.
Injuries to wide receivers and inconsistency overall have plagued the Patriots passing attack throughout the season. The recent trade for veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu, plus Harry's eventual addition, will give quarterback Tom Brady two more really talented targets at a critical point in the season. The Patriots have enjoyed the softest schedule in the league through the first eight games, but the next five weeks include games against four playoff-caliber opponents, including the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.
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