Can N'Keal Harry and the New England Patriots salvage their relationship after all?
The Patriots wide receiver requested a trade last month, with his agent citing the need for a "fresh start" after two disappointing seasons in New England. But that trade has yet to materialize, and in the meantime, Harry has been practicing with the team at training camp -- where he's actually playing well.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton offered a strong review of Harry's performance to date when asked Thursday about the young wideout he calls "Doughboy."
"I’ve always had the confidence in Doughboy to be what he is," Newton told reporters, as seen in the video above. "He’s still not scratching the surface (of his potential). He’s believing it, and you guys are seeing it, which is good for his confidence."
Harry has made several nice plays through one week of practices and showcased his physicality during the team's first fully-padded practice Tuesday. More importantly, Newton says the 23-year-old has a better understanding of the Patriots' playbook.
"He’s taking the initiative and he’s more comfortable," Newton said. "I think before the play is even called, he understands the personnel groupings, he understands what (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) is trying to do to him and for him — and with him.
"I think that’s important. And once he understands that piece, that’s when the game can kind of slow down for him and it just becomes running a great route and catching the football."
Wide receivers coach Troy Brown also praised Harry's "great attitude" entering camp, so the 2019 first-round pick is doing all the right things. But if Harry wants to earn playing time in a position group that includes 2020 leading receiver Jakobi Meyers and newcomers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, he'll need to deliver in New England's first preseason game next Thursday as well as joint practices later this summer.