The Patriots officially activated first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry from injured reserve, paving the way for the receiver to play this Sunday.
Help is on the way for the revolving door that has been the New England Patriots wide receiver corps this season. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots have officially activated N’Keal Harry from injured reserve, meaning he could suit up and play for the team as soon as this weekend.
Harry has been practicing with the Patriots for the past two weeks. Reporters spotted a travel bag by his locker on Friday, suggesting that he would in fact make the trip to Baltimore with the rest of his teammates to take on the 5-2 Ravens on Sunday Night Football.
The Patriots need as much assistance as they can get this season when it comes to pass-catchers.
Longtime offensive mainstay Rob Gronkowski retired last March and left behind a massive void in the weaponry available to 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. Brady still has Julian Edelman and fifth-year receiver Phillip Dorsett, but all of his other wide receivers and tight ends this season are new to him in 2019.
Harry is still an unproven commodity – if he plays Sunday night, it will be his first taste of regular season action in the NFL – but the upside is certainly there for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound product out of Arizona State. In 20 years as head coach and general manager of the Patriots, Bill Belichick had never used a first-round draft pick on a wide receiver… until he chose Harry last April with pick No. 32.
The talented wideout showed flashes of the potential that made him a top-round pick throughout OTAs and minicamp, but unfortunately he got his ankle dinged up during joint practices with the Detroit Lions. Harry re-aggravated the injury during his preseason debut against those same Lions, and was sent to IR in part to make room for Demaryius Thomas on the New England roster.
Thomas was later traded to the New York Jets when Belichick acquired Antonio Brown, but we all know how that ended up working out for the club. With Brown released by the Pats and still unsigned by any other team as he faces multiple lawsuits and a pending league investigation, the Patriots were forced to bide their time and wait until Harry could return off IR to reinforce their receiver depth chart.
Thankfully for the team, New England’s defense has been on fire all season, and the team enters their high-profile matchup against the Ravens undefeated and sporting an 8-0 record.
If Harry plays against Baltimore, he figures to slide in as either the No. 4 or No. 5 option, depending on how confident Belichick is in his development after missing half of the regular season up to this point. Edelman is the unquestioned No. 1 option, with Dorsett and newcomer Mohamed Sanu rounding out the top-three positions in terms of experience.
Harry and fellow rookie Jakobi Meyers will likely jockey for the fourth and fifth options, with receiver/kickoff returner Gunner Olszewski No. 6 and special teams ace Matthew Slater an emergency option at No. 7.