Rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry, in four games with the New England Patriots, has shown flashes of the impressive talent that made the team select him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He just hasn't been able to show his skills on a consistent basis throughout these individual games.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, speaking on a media conference call Tuesday, talked about how he plans to put Harry in positions where he can use this athleticism and size to help the Patriots offense improve.
"We know he's big and not easy tackle," McDaniels said. "I need to do a better job of finding ways to get him in space, get him the ball, and let him have an opportunity to (make plays)."
One example of getting Harry into space came on perhaps the most controversial play of the Patriots' 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed a pass to Harry behind the line of scrimmage, and the Patriots wideout evaded a few defenders before diving toward the pylon. Harry was ruled out at the 3-yard line, even though replays showed he never stepped out of bounds. The Patriots couldn't challenge the play because they had no challenges remaining. They eventually settled for a field goal on that drive.
here's the actual play. and replay showed clearly he did not step out of bounds. pic.twitter.com/w1ddoENCjo— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) December 9, 2019
Despite the unfortunate ending to the play, it was a good example of what Harry can do when he has the ball in his hands in the open field.
"He made a great individual effort," McDaniels said of Harry's near-touchdown. "Broke a tackle, had good balance there to finish the play and give us an opportunity to score. He's a big guy. He's not easy to get to the ground."
It's easy to see why the Patriots are hesitant to make Harry one of the focal points of the offensive attack. He's still learning the offense. He has only four games of experience, and he doesn't have much of a rapport with Brady because of his lack of experience. However, it's not like the Patriots have a ton of other options right now. Veteran wideouts Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett have failed to make an impact in recent weeks. In fairness, injuries have impacted both players, but these veterans need to play at a much higher level if they're healthy enough to be on the field.
Several others contending teams have incorporated rookie wide receivers into their offense with plenty of success this season. Some of the best examples are Deebo Samuel with the San Francisco 49ers, D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks and A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots would be wise to use Harry more often, and Sunday's game against a last-place Cincinnati Bengals team is a great opportunity to give him a bunch of snaps.
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