New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry had a relatively promising performance in a Week 14 loss otherwise devoid of positives.
And “relative” is the operative word because Harry caught just three passes on four targets for a team-high 49 yards. But two of those receptions, including a 30-yarder, were of the contested variety, and at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Harry finally was able to use his size and physical nature to his advantage in the Patriots’ 24-3 loss to the Rams.
“Just a ball that was up in the air and I went and got it,” Harry said of his 30-yard reception. “Simple as that. … I pride myself on those 50/50 balls. Whenever a ball like that is in the air, I expect myself to come down with it 10 times out of 10.”
Harry also held onto the ball after taking a hard hit on his first catch of the game, a 13-yard gain. He beat Rams cornerback Troy Hill on a deep route at the beginning of the second half and appeared to be held on the incomplete pass but officials didn’t throw a flag.
Harry hasn’t received a ton of those targets downfield in his two-year NFL career. Harry has one of the highest body mass indexes among wide receivers, but the Patriots have preferred to use him as an after-the-catch threat. Harry should be able to bowl over defensive backs, but he has trouble running past them or making them miss.
Harry’s usage has led him to average just 8.8 yards per catch and 4.8 yards per target in his NFL career.
So, would Harry prefer to be targeted on those passes that he feels he can catch “10 times out of 10?”
“That’s not up to me,” Harry said. “My job is to go out there every day and compete and get better and let the coaches handle that.”
Harry caught a touchdown on another contested target in the Patriots’ 45-0 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week. The Patriots might not be playoff-bound this season, but if they can get Harry going in the final quarter of their season, it would be a minor victory in an otherwise disappointing season.