FOXBOROUGH — N’Keal Harry is poised to give a big boost to the Patriots receiving corps.
Literally and figuratively.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound rookie receiver could see his first NFL game action if the club decides to activate him in time for the Sunday night showdown in Baltimore.
Bill Belichick and receivers coach Joe Judge gave positive updates on the first-round pick this week and judging by his teammates’ impressions, Harry, who spent the first eight weeks on injured reserve with leg ailments, is raring to go.
Harry has been polishing his act and sharpening his skills against one of the toughest secondaries in the league in preparation for his debut.
“I go against him a lot and he’s coming to work every day trying to get better,’’ said cornerback Stephon Gilmore. “He makes tough catches and he has great hands.’’
Fellow corner J.C. Jackson gave a similar ringing endorsement of the Arizona State product.
“He’s tough, man,’’ said Jackson. “We compete every day and he goes hard.’’
The book on Harry coming out of Arizona State was that he was big and physical and he had a penchant for making difficult and contested catches.
“He’s big. You can be on him — you can have him covered — and he’ll still make the catch,’’ said Jackson. “He’s tough, fast, and he has strong hands.’’
Jackson said Harry uses his hands for more than just snagging catches.
“At the line of scrimmage, he gets physical, down the field he gets physical, he’ll push you,’’ he said. “He’s looking good.’’
Gilmore, who also lauded Harry’s speed and strength, said squaring off against him has helped his own game as well.
“Yes, for sure,’’ he said. “Everybody does, not just him. He’s tough to cover, so that’s what it takes to try and work on your craft each and every day to try and get better.’’
The Patriots newest receiver, Mohamed Sanu, also has been mentoring Harry and he’s been impressed during the short bursts they’ve spent together.
“Just little stuff and details on routes. Just helping him [with] little intricacies to his game,’’ he said. “He’s a very talented, very gifted, big-bodied receiver who can move well.’’
Judge said Harry has been an enthusiastic returnee since he “missed a ton of ball” and that he needed to catch up with a lot of the fundamentals.
“The speed of the game, the timing of the quarterbacks, reading the coverage and making adjustments – that’s all something he’s had to get back into,’’ said Judge.
As for what role Harry might fill or what routes he’s been running in practice, Judge wasn’t biting.
“I could tell you that,’’ he said with smile. “But, then I’d have to kill you.’’
Stormtrooper under center?
Tom Brady was slinging in the rain Thursday as the quarterback was removed from the participation report after being limited Wednesday with a right shoulder problem.
Earlier in the day Brady joked on social media that he would not participate in the session. Dressed as a stormtrooper for Halloween, he said the reason for his absence would be because he “refused to take off stormtrooper helmet.’’
Seven players were listed as limited, including receivers Julian Edelman (chest/shoulder) and Gunner Olszewski (ankle/hamstring); tight ends Matt LaCosse (knee) and Ryan Izzo (concussion); running back Rex Burkhead (foot); guard Shaq Mason (ankle); and safety Patrick Chung (heel/chest).
Gordon released off IR
The Patriots officially released receiver Josh Gordon off injured reserve. The veteran is subject to waivers and will likely be claimed by a team hoping to score a compensatory pick in next year’s draft. Gordon, 28, will be a free agent at season’s end. He had 20 catches for 287 yards in six games this season . . . Gilmore was named AFC Defensive player of the month as he collected 11 tackles, 7 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions as the club went 4-0. It was the second straight month a Patriot snagged the award after Devin McCourty earned it for September . . . The Patriots own an 8-1 record against the Ravens in the regular season with Baltimore’s lone victory a 31-30 decision in 2012 . . . New England is 2-2 vs. Baltimore in the postseason . . . Brady is 21-11 in Sunday night games, with one of the losses the aforementioned defeat to the Ravens . . . Deatrich Wise playfully interrupted a scrum around Kyle Van Noy to pose a pair of questions: “Do the freaks come out at night and if that’s true will the Boogeymen be out at night?” Smiling, Van Noy said, “Maybe.’’