N'Keal Harry has played more like an undrafted free agent than a first-round pick in his brief NFL career. But it appears he still has the confidence of the latter.
The second-year Patriots wide receiver has become an afterthought in New England's passing attack, with three targets or fewer in four of his last five games.
But one of Harry's three targets Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers resulted in a touchdown: a strong grab on a high Cam Newton throw for a 5-yard score.
While you could call Harry's TD grab a potential turning point in what's been a rough season to date, the 22-year-old is trying to take a more even-keeled approach.
"Weight off my shoulders? Not really," Harry told reporters after the Patriots' 45-0 win. "Just glad I could contribute today."
Harry admitted he's heard the chatter about his shortcomings after New England took him No. 32 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. He doesn't believe a lack of confidence is causing those shortcomings, though.
"Regardless of all the noise going on outside the building, I have been getting more confidence week-by-week. None of that phases me at all," Harry said.
" ... As far as my confidence -- I don't know what everyone else feels like, but I know how much work I've been putting in. ... There's nothing wrong with my confidence."
Harry certainly has a supporter in Newton, who leaped on the young wideout in celebration after his TD and has spoken highly of "Doughboy" throughout the season.
"It was just a way for him to get his confidence up with a big play on his part," Newton said of Harry's touchdown. "I wouldn't say it was the best pass. But for him to play as big as he has been playing, I think we're going to need that here moving forward more than ever."
The Patriots' passing attack has been virtually nonexistent over the past two weeks, and it's unlikely Harry will put up big numbers unless New England overhauls its offensive approach.
If Newton can go to Harry in key moments, though, that will mark a big step forward for the young wideouts.