Patriots

Patriots WR N’Keal Harry returns to practice after IR stint

The former first-round pick had a strong training camp but hasn't played for the Patriots since suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 of the preseason.

N'Keal Harry Patriots
N'Keal Harry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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A familiar face made his first appearance on the practice field for the Patriots this season. (And no, unfortunately, we’re not talking about Stephon Gilmore. We’re still a few weeks from that.)

Wide receiver N’Keal Harry was spotted by reporters at Wednesday’s practice participating in drills, which could be a welcome sign for a passing offense that hasn’t yet gotten on track to start the season.

The 2019 first-round pick also debuted his new jersey number for the Patriots, donning the No. 1 he starred in at Arizona State University in accordance with the NFL’s expanded jersey availabilities this year. He’ll take over No. 1 from former quarterback Cam Newton, who was cut before the season began.

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Harry hasn’t been on the field for the Patriots since suffering a shoulder injury while diving for a pass from Mac Jones in the team’s second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He left the game immediately and eventually was placed on injured reserve after making the initial 53-man roster, which allowed him to return to practice after Week 3.

Head coach Bill Belichick hinted at the possibility of Harry’s return in his press availabilities on Monday, setting the stage for Wednesday.

With Harry now back at practice, the team has 21 days to officially add him to the 53-man roster, meaning the team will likely have to make a corresponding roster move to make space for him.

What he’ll do when he hits the field in a game, though, is the question of the hour.

The former No. 32 overall pick hasn’t come close to living up to his draft status, managing just 45 catches for 414 yards and two touchdowns thus far in his NFL career. Though he made several highlight-reel catches in training camp, that production didn’t translate to game situations in the preseason.

But with the Patriots struggling to make much headway in the red zone this year, adding a big-bodied target who can box out defensive backs near the goal line could prove useful for rookie quarterback Jones.

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