N'Keal Harry

Julian Edelman impressed with how N'Keal Harry is navigating learning curve

Julian Edelman impressed with how N'Keal Harry is navigating learning curve

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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Great video shows incredible emotion of Patriots rookie N'Keal Harry's draft night

Great video shows incredible emotion of Patriots rookie N'Keal Harry's draft night

NFL Draft night is very exciting for players because they're realizing their dream of becoming a pro, but the event also brings with it a lot of stress and anxiety as more and more picks come off the board.

Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry went through many different emotions during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in May. Harry, as one of the top wideouts in the class, was expected to be selected in Round 1, but as more and more teams in need of a wide receiver passed on him, the probability of him slipping to Round 2 went higher.

At one point, Harry even said "I'm about to throw up." 

Overtime chronicled Harry's draft night with friends and family and released a great video showing the rollercoaster of emotions he experienced throughout Round 1. Check it out below: 

Sometimes we forget about the hard work and the challenges these players overcome to get to the NFL, but watching the emotion Harry and his family shared when the Patriots selected him at No. 32 was a pretty good reminder.

Harry's next challenge is building chemistry with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the rest of the team's offense. The rookie is getting plenty of reps in this week's mandatory minicamp practices.

Stephon Gilmore picking up where he left off in 2018>>>

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N'Keal Harry carrying perfectionist approach from Arizona State to Patriots minicamp

N'Keal Harry carrying perfectionist approach from Arizona State to Patriots minicamp

FOXBORO -- N'Keal Harry stayed down on the ground for an extra beat or two, his face mask in the turf. Before he started to get to his feet, he slapped the grass with his hands. He was frustrated. That much was clear. 

It was a moment that came toward the end of what had been a decidedly up-and-down practice for the first-round rookie receiver Tuesday. Harry heard it from coaches during drills. He didn't always connect with Tom Brady in their first practice together. And when an out-route fell incomplete after he made a diving attempt to snare it, he was visibly bothered. 

"Tough catch," he said later, "but I expect myself to make it."

Brady peppered Harry with targets throughout the practice, an indication that the 41-year-old -- who has taken some time to warm up to young receivers in the past -- understands Harry's development could make a drastic impact on the overall success of the Patriots passing game.

There was a slant that fell incomplete early, and a contested fade that nicked Harry's fingertips before hitting the turf. There were completions sprinkled in throughout as well: a corner route mid-way through the session; a pass to the sideline threaded between coverage.

But the misses seemed to bother Harry, which is consistent with the reputation he established at Arizona State. He was a perfectionist of sorts there, and that approach has apparently followed him to New England.

"N'Keal's very competitive," Arizona State receivers coach Charlie Fisher told The Next Pats Podcast earlier this offseason. "He looks to do good. He gets pissed if he doesn't do it good in practice. Like all great players, he wants to do it good. He takes great pride in trying to do whatever it is your trying to teach him, and he tries to do a good job with it."

In an offense that has proven very difficult for young receivers to grasp over the years, Harry may have to strike some sort of balance between beating himself up after practices and finding room for growth in the mistakes he makes. 

But in some ways, what we saw from Harry in his first Gillette Stadium workout with Brady is likely part of the reason why the Patriots liked him as much as they did on draft weekend. There was no entitlement in how Harry carried himself Tuesday. No nose-in-the-air, I'm-a-first-rounder-I've-got-this kind of comportment.

Harry treated the first day of minicamp, "teaching camp," like a game. There is a long list of Patriots who've handled practices with similar intensity, who've attacked every rep as if their livelihood depended on it, who've worked out just fine -- including the guy throwing Harry passes this week.

That he didn't secure every football thrown his way should not have been the takeaway for anyone watching Harry closely on Tuesday. It was that he was bothered by the ones he didn't.

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