FOXBORO – Having come up the hard way in the NFL, Julian Edelman’s personality is hardwired to be impatient with the silver spoon set.
So imagine him sizing up a first-round pick from a power conference that looks to be carved from the Creator’s personal stash of granite. Twelve years younger and in town to take targets away.
I’d figure Edelman for a squint, a sniff and a disdainful release of tobacco juice in the dirt near his feet.
But that isn’t what N’Keal Harry’s getting. On Wednesday, I asked Edelman what he thought of the Patriots first-rounder and Edelman indicated what has become obvious since Harry got here: Harry A) takes things very seriously, B) happily brings physicality to the spot and C) is built like a brick outhouse.
“He’s a big kid and he works hard,” Edelman said after the second of three minicamp practices this week. “We’re gonna need him to play well. We’re gonna need everyone to play well.
“It’s tough to play receiver here but he’s doing a good job at that by not making the same mistakes,” Edelman added. “I’m not a coach but I like his attitude. I like his body. He’s got a big body… got some nice abs too… hopefully he comes in and can help right away.”
The abs aren’t window dressing. The body control Harry’s shown during these practices (and at Arizona State) has been impressive. On Wednesday, he elevated to pluck a highly-thrown Brian Hoyer pass with one hand and fell to the ground in the end zone. On Tuesday, he reached back to tip a ball to himself while running a skinny post.
It hasn’t all been highlights, though. Harry’s been targeted repeatedly by Tom Brady and the other Patriots quarterbacks and there have been missed connections and frequent pointers given by coaches. There’s a lot of information flying at him and pressure to retain it.
I asked Edelman about negotiating the mental aspect of letting go of mistakes.
“That’s the ebbs and flows of being new in an environment, especially for a rookie,” he said. “There’s gonna be bad days, there’s gonna be good days, there’s gonna be days where you don’t do anything. When I was a rookie, there was a guy by the name of Fred Taylor (a former Patriots running back who was most productive with the Jaguars), I’d get a ride from him at the Residence Inn (Foxboro) in his Range Rover and he’d say, ‘Rook, it’s a roller coaster. You gotta ride that ride and keep it level-minded.’ “
Taylor and teammates like Matt Slater and Rob Ninkovich had Edelman’s back. Edelman wasn’t as impressed with the guy he was in closer competition with, Wes Welker. Edelman wants to be a little more giving with his advice.
“You’ll have teammates that help you and I had teammates that didn’t,” Edelman acknowledged.
“I like to be known as a teammate that would help you,” he explained. “I like to give little pointers here and there because the better we all are, the better we are as a team. I like going out and trying to give information if they want information and go from there. Part of the job, I guess.”
For Harry, the job right now is to learn, retain, perform and do it all again. Edelman doesn’t sound worried that due diligence will be done.
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