FOXBOROUGH — Jakobi Meyers spent Monday night flying underneath the Jets' secondary but not under John Harbaugh’s radar screen.
The Ravens coach, whose team faces the Patriots Sunday night, has taken notice of Meyers’s surge in the Patriots' offense — including his dozen catches for 169 yards in the Meadowlands — and his building chemistry with Cam Newton.
Meyers has 22 catches for 287 yards over the last three weeks.
“He’s obviously become a target,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. "You start with that. Then you see how and why, and I think he’s done a great job of just playing the position. He’s got talent, he’s rangy, he’s got good hands, he’s got catch radius, he can get open. He seems to understand coverages and leverages pretty well, and he seems to be tuned in to the offense and to Cam.''
Meyers opened up Wednesday about a candid conversation he recently had with Newton during which the quarterback made it a point to remind the receiver "not to sell himself short.''
That pep talk, coupled with injuries in the position group, have given Meyers ample opportunity to strut his stuff.
"I just remember him pretty much telling me that I was selling myself short. That I have potential, all I have to do is just live up to it and go out there and show coaches what I can do,'' Meyers recalled. "It was crazy because right after that, I got my opportunity, I actually played a couple plays and made a couple plays here in the San Fran game, a couple plays here in the Bills game, and then I got the opportunity to play a major role in the last game. Like he was saying, just stop selling myself short. I could be beneficial to the team if I just go out there and put my best effort every day, show coaches that they can trust me to play and I’m reliable. And it ended up leading to good things.''
Ironically, Meyers’s increased snaps have come, in part, because of an injury to Julian Edelman — a teammate he said has been critical to his professional growth over the last two seasons.
"He’s definitely played a big role on my time being here as a Patriot. He pretty much gives me the answers to the test, honestly,'' said Meyers. "All I have to do is watch him, what he [does], and throw in my own little route technique or my own little detail. It works. He gives me the answers to the test and combine that with great coaching, I feel like I’m prepared to go out there every day and compete my best.''
Meyers, who acknowledged his phone had blown up with congratulatory messages after his prime-time showing, has leaned on his quarterback background to help him shape his receiving game.
"I feel like that’s definitely a thing that works for me. I see plays big picture. So, I kind of understand what [Cam is] looking for and if that doesn’t work, what he’s doing next,'' he said. "And I definitely still have that quarterback clock in my head. So, if I feel like my route’s taking too long, I know to get my eyes back to the quarterback, because he might be in trouble. Or I know where I might have to cut it off.''
Meyers appreciates Newton’s confidence and poise in the pocket.
"That’s an MVP we’re talking about,'' he said. "That’s a guy that’s been doing it at an elite level for a good little minute now. It’s definitely a blessing to play with him and if he keeps doing his thing, hopefully we’ll keep building and keep going.''
Cause for concern
Harbaugh has had his share of battles with the Patriots over the years, but this is the first time he’ll be preparing for an offense not run by Tom Brady. He’s still pretty leery of the guy taking the snaps, however.
“I think they’ve done a really good job of building up the offense around the players that they have, around the quarterback, Cam, who we played before and is a super-talented, extremely dangerous quarterback,” Harbaugh said. "Great arm, great presence, can take off and go, as well, manages the game really well, a good leader — all those things.
“We struggled playing against him in other games, so we understand that, and we understand that their coaches — like they always do — have done a great job. They’ve built that offense. There’s a lot of carryover from last year’s offense, certainly, especially with the power run game. So, we’re just trying to take it as we find it and do the best we can.”
With a shortened practice week, the Patriots held a walkthrough Wednesday, but there were some notable items, including the return of receiver N’Keal Harry, running back J.J. Taylor, and right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor.
In addition, running back Damien Harris, who absorbed a heavy shot to the chest late in the Jets game, was at the session, held without pads or helmets.
Harry had been in concussion protocol since the 49ers game, when he took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Tarvarius Moore, who was later fined by the NFL for unnecessary roughness. Taylor sat out last week’s practices because of an illness.
Eluemunor has been on injured reserve since he banged up his ankle against the Broncos.
The new guys
Wide receiver Isaiah Ford (trade from Miami) and defensive tackle Isaiah Mack (claimed from Tennessee) made their practice debuts after clearing COVID-19 testing protocols.
Ford will wear No. 84 and Mack No. 94.
Also making their fledgling Foxborough appearances were practice squad tight ends Dylan Cantrell (No. 81) and David Wells (No. 88). A third tight end, Jordan Thomas, who was claimed off waivers from Arizona, can’t practice until he completes his COVID-19 steps. He’ll wear No. 83.
The club listed 17 players as limited, including linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin) and Shilique Calhoun (knee); defensive tackles Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, knee) and Carl Davis (concussion); defensive ends John Simon (elbow) and Deatrich Wise (knee, hand); cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (knee) and J.C. Jackson (knee); safeties Kyle Dugger (ankle) and Cody Davis (calf); Harry (concussion); Harris (chest, ankle); tight end Ryan Izzo (hamstring); guards Joe Thuney (ankle) and Shaq Mason (calf); left tackle Isaiah Wynn (ankle); and kicker Nick Folk (back).
Folk earned AFC special teams player of the week honors after beating the Jets with a 51-yard field goal on the game’s final play Monday night. Folk was 3 for 3 on field goals and 3 for 3 on PATs. It’s the third time in his career Folk has won the award … Linebacker Cassh Maluia, who was cut Tuesday, cleared waivers and is set to be signed to the practice squad, per a NESN report … Long snapper Joe Cardona, a.k.a. Navy Lieutenant Joe Cardona, is the team’s nominee for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award.