Against Eagles, Patriots rookie N’Keal Harry finally gets to pitch in

N’Keal Harry made his season debut on Sunday.
N’Keal Harry made his season debut on Sunday.Elsa/Getty Images/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — Rookie receiver N’Keal Harry made his long-awaited debut Sunday against the Eagles, and wound up playing more in the second half after injuries hit other receivers.

Early on, Harry was mostly in the game on running plays but said that physical work — especially a crack block on defensive end Derek Barnett — helped him get back into a groove after a long time away from competitive football.

“Just that first hit goes a long way, just getting it out of the way and seeing how it feels,” Harry said. “I haven’t played in a game in over a year besides that Detroit game but that was only three snaps and that was a preseason game.”


Harry hurt his hamstring in that game, missed the rest of the preseason and went on IR the first week of the regular season. He did not play against the Ravens in the first game he could have after being activated from IR, but was deemed ready after the bye. He finished with three catches on four targets for 18 yards, getting more work in the second half after Mohamed Sanu got banged up and Phillip Dorsett left the game with a head injury.

“I think he did pretty good with it,” Sanu said, describing how Harry reacted to the sudden increase in workload. “Still got a lot of ground to do and he’s got to keep getting better.”

Harry can say that his first catch as a Patriot, an 11-yarder over the middle, went for a first down. He said he should have done better on the one incompletion but that he’d have to look at the tape to know exactly how. The rest, he said, were “just routine plays that I’m supposed to make.”

Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.