Patriots

Patriots Talk Podcast: Did N'Keal Harry turn a corner in Week 2?

Patriots

Here's one encouraging sign from the Patriots' last-second loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2: N'Keal Harry played his best game in a New England uniform.

The second-year wide receiver set career highs in catches (eight) and yards (72) in the Patriots' 35-30 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night in an effort that earned him praise from quarterback Cam Newton.

"Doughboy has grown in front of everyone’s eyes,” Newton told reporters after Sunday's game, referencing his nickname for Harry. "For him to gain confidence in himself, I think that’s a start. And I think that’s what he’s doing.

"I think today’s game was a great indication of that and what he could potentially be. Yet through it all, he still has to keep building to become the best version of himself."

Patriots Talk Podcast: Patriots take big loss to Seahawks, but also a big step forward | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

But what is the best version of Harry? Our Patriots Insiders Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed Harry's career game on a new Patriots Talk Podcast and were similarly encouraged with the young wideout's effort.

"I think this was a positive step for him in terms of a toughness kind of game," Perry said, citing an early reception Harry made on a fourth-and-3 while taking a big hit from Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs.

 

"He's still having trouble breaking tackles in the open field, which surprises me. But at least he was welcoming it on occasions, whereas in Week 1 he was on his back after running into 180-pound corners."

Curran was pleased to see Harry step up after a rough Week 1 performance that included a costly fumble near the goal line that resulted in a touchback. The question, Curran argued, is whether the Patriots 2019 first-round pick can repeat Sunday's performance.

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"We'll see if, at 22, this is starting to be something that he develops," Curran said. " ... He has to follow this up now. Last week was not a great week. ... Now, this week was a good week. Can he stack another one?

"The question isn't about potential with this guy. That's why I'm never going to say he was a bust, because it's in there. It's wasn't a bad pick. It's only bad if he cannot summon the consistency."

For all of the optimism about Harry's performance, though, Perry still sees a glaring hole in the wideout's game.

"I do have some questions about the potential, honestly," Perry added. "I feel like breaking tackles is almost like an innate skill. You can either do it or you can't. And he's having trouble getting around the first guy. So, that's what I would worry about."

The stats bear that concern out: Harry is averaging just 8.5 yards per reception -- 123rd in the NFL among qualified pass-catchers -- and 4.15 yards after the catch.

Perry: Why Pats made the right call on final play -- and why it didn't work

Sunday was Harry's ninth NFL game, though, so there's still plenty of time for the young wideout to improve.

Curran and Perry also discussed how the Patriots are way ahead of schedule in the Cam Newton era, whether New England made the right call on their final play against Seattle and more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.