Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry eager to make NFL debut

Patriots rookie receiver N'Keal Harry (15) has been forced to play catch-up after being on injured reserve.
Patriots rookie receiver N'Keal Harry (15) has been forced to play catch-up after being on injured reserve.JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — N’Keal Harry knows the drill.

In fact, he knows all the drills.

The Patriots rookie wide receiver has been limited to practice work since returning from injured reserve Oct. 15. He was added to the roster Nov. 2 but was inactive for the loss in Baltimore.

The first-round pick has another chance to make his long-awaited pro debut when the Patriots travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Sunday.

“It feels great just getting out there with my team,’’ Harry said Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time since July. “Just getting better every day with them. Just looking for my role and the way to help my team.’’


The 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound Harry has a reputation as a physical receiver, and he showed that off during downfield blocking drills during the media window of practice on Wednesday.

Harry showed some real flashes during training camp before a pair of leg injuries derailed his summer. He was originally injured during a joint practice with the Lions, and he suffered another setback in the exhibition game in Detroit.

Harry said he didn’t “didn’t have regrets” about playing through the first injury and was not trying to prove anything by suiting up.

N'Keal Harry has yet to play a regular-season game.
N'Keal Harry has yet to play a regular-season game.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

“I don’t need to show anything,’’ Harry said. “Me going out there and playing hard and playing through stuff, that’s just the type of mentality I have. That’s just the type of mind-set I grew up having. It wasn’t me trying to show anything, show toughness or anything. That’s just me.’’

Though Harry wasn’t able to participate in practice while he served his eight-week stint on injured reserve, he was able to stay in tune with his teammates through team meetings, positional meetings, and film sessions.

“I just looked at it as a blessing,’’ he said. “I just looked at the positive things in it. God has done so much throughout my life.


“He’s put steppingstones in certain places. I just looked at it the same way.’’

Harry has received positive reviews from many of his coaches and teammates, especially the defensive backs with whom he regularly locks horns with during practice.

Tom Brady, who has been reluctant to make production predictions for his younger teammates, did have praise for Harry’s work ethic when asked about it during an appearance on WEEI on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately for N’Keal, he got hurt early in training camp. He didn’t have the development when other guys were practicing for over two months,’’ Brady said. “He’s working hard. He’s extremely hard-working. He wants to do it. He’s got a great edge about him. I really love that.

“I really love his tenacity and he’s learning every day, and he’s working hard to get better. I think that’s all you can ask of a younger player.’’

Asked on Thursday about building chemistry with his quarterback, Harry spoke more in generalities.

“It’s been great just going out there just trying to get better every day,’’ he said. “Just trying to make sure I’m improving and giving it my all every day.’’

Practice report

Nate Ebner (back/ankle) and Obi Melifonwu were the only players not spotted during the media window at Thursday’s shells-and-sweats practice . . . Defensive end John Simon (elbow) was a new addition to the injury report. He was listed as limited. Safety Patrick Chung (heel/chest), tight end Matt LaCosse (knee), and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (ankle) also were limited . . . For the Eagles, receiver Alshon Jeffery (ankle), running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps), and linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle) did not practice. Running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and offensive tackle Jason Peters (knee) were limited . . . Matthew Slater was chosen as the Patriots’ nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. The winner will be selected by a player vote and will be announced Feb. 1, the night before the Super Bowl. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of his choice.


Will the Patriots bounce back against the Eagles?
Nora Princiotti and Ben Volin discuss the prospects of the Patriots after their first loss in the season against the Ravens in week 9. (Produced by Lucie McCormick for the Boston Globe)

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.