A slimmed-down N’Keal Harry hopes extra footwork training will pay off in Year 2 with the Patriots

Steven Senne
Patriots receivers Julian Edelman, left, and N'Keal Harry will be catching passes from a new quarterback this season. –Steven Senne

N’Keal Harry spent a lot of time on his feet this offseason.

After a disappointing rookie season — 12 receptions, 105 yards, 2 touchdowns — the Patriots’ 2019 first-round pick decided to double down on improving his footwork to make himself more productive on the field.

“I just went into this offseason just attacking and trying to improve overall facets of my game, and that was one of them I thought I had to improve on,” he said Tuesday, after the Patriots took to the field for their second padded practice of training camp.

Part of his work involved traveling down to Houston to work with a man known as The Footwork King. Harry also slimmed down — not with a goal weight in mind, but with a goal of becoming more efficient. He lifted weights less and ate better, and thinks the changes will help.

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“I felt like I was a little bit big, and felt like slimming down and being a little more thin will help me get on top of my routes, and my breaks, and my releases,” he said.

Harry enters his second season with a new starting quarterback. Whether that’s Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, or Brian Hoyer, he’s approaching the training camp workouts the same way.

“Every time we take the field, the quarterbacks make sure they’re doing everything they can to throw a good ball, get good drops, and work on their fundamentals,” Harry said. “It’s the same for me no matter what quarterback is out there. I’ve got to focus on working on myself.”

But there’s no denying that Newton brings a new element to the team. Harry was able to link up with him in Los Angeles for workouts last month. That allowed the pair to develop chemistry, Harry said, and he added that Newton is a “great player who brings a lot of energy to the field.”

“When you have a new quarterback coming in, it’s important to build chemistry,” Harry said. “With all the quarterbacks, they’re all working hard and they’re all busting their [butts] every day.

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Harry seems optimistic about overcoming a difficult first season.

“There’s a lot of things about this that can be hard to pick up at first,” he explained. “There’s a lot of things, a lot of detail that you don’t have to pay attention to in college. This second year has helped me a lot.”

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