FOXBORO -- N'Keal Harry had a bag in front of his locker, ready to be filled with gear ahead of this weekend's trip to Baltimore. That doesn't mean that he'll be traveling necessarily. The Patriots will place bags in front of every player's locker before road trips in case the media in the locker room tries to read into that one way or the other.
But that bag was an indication that at least Harry is eligible to travel this week. We don't know yet whether or not he'll play. He indicated on Thursday that he'd like to be in uniform, but that's obviously not his call.
If Harry does indeed play, the impact his presence has on the Patriots offense will be fascinating. But it might be a bit much to expect him to fill up the stat sheet if he's out there for his pro debut against the Ravens.
"He's missed a lot of football," Tom Brady said Friday. "Missed a lot of training camp. Missed eight regular season games. Just gotta try to work at it every day. It's gonna be up to him to put the effort in. Everyone's here to help him, but you've gotta go out there and do it and earn it and earn the trust of your teammates and coaches. It's good to have him out there."
Harry has been able to practice since Week 7, giving him a long week of work ahead of the Jets game in Week 8 and then two subsequent weeks of work since then. Bill Belichick said Friday he likes what he's seen from Harry -- "He’s worked hard at everything, special teams role, offense, so we’ll see how it goes here for the weekend," he explained -- but he's looking at an uphill climb when it comes to gaining the trust of his teammates simply because of the game action he's missed.
Particularly his most important teammate, the one who will be throwing Harry the ball whenever the time comes. Talented as Harry may be with his impressive catch radius and ability to make contested grabs, Brady clearly values veteran experience. In answering a question about why Brady liked Mohamed Sanu as much as he does, Brady cited experience first.
"Football's a game about anticipation," Brady said. "The good part is it's a veteran player, you know how to play football. It's not like a rookie, they don't know what the real expectation is. He's been a part of some great offenses."
Harry has only been a part of some Arizona State offenses to this point. Helping him make the adjustment to pro life, though, have been receivers coach Joe Judge, assistant Troy Brown and veteran wideouts Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett. Even the new guy, Sanu, was spotted giving Harry some tips in the locker room this week.
"It's good leadership," Brady said. "If you look at the three veterans that we have with Mohamed and Julian and Phillip, those guys are just very consistent, dependable players who have a lot of productivity. Then we have three really young players with Gunner, Jakobi and now N'Keal. It's kind of a different mix. Three veterans. Three rookies.
"I think those rookies really need to rely on the veterans to show them the way. I'm glad that room has kind of provided the leadership that they have. We're gonna need everybody. I think that's we've realized. We're only at the halfway point of the year. There's a lot of football left. Everybody in each room is really counted on. There's no wasted space. Everybody has to bring something along with them. Those rookies have to look up to the older guys to show them the way."
And if Harry is going to contribute Sunday, he will have to show that he can execute in a live situation what the veterans have shown him. It's been a while since anyone has seen anything from him.
"If he's active and he gets an opportunity," Brady said, "you gotta make the plays."
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