BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are scouring the market looking for help at offense, but some assistance could be coming from within. After spending the start of his rookie season on IR, wide receiver N’Keal Harry is eligible to return to practice this week.
Harry, the first wide receiver to be drafted in the first round by Bill Belichick during his Patriots tenure, showed plenty of promise in offseason workouts, but suffered an ankle injury after just two preseason catches. He was placed on IR ahead of Week 1, and hasn’t been able to practice since.
Whether Harry actually hits the field or not remains to be seen, and Belichick didn’t offer any hints during a Monday morning conference call. He said if Harry is healthy, he’ll practice.
“Physically he needs to be able to show he can go out there and participate competitively at the practice level that we’re at,” said Belichick. “Hopefully that’s where he’ll be, but we’ll make our final evaluations on that before we put him out there.”
But the expectation has always been that he’d be back in the fold when eligible to come off IR. Once Harry returns to practice, the Patriots will have three weeks to evaluate if he’s ready for game action. Should he return this week, the earliest he’d be eligible to play in a game would be Nov. 3 when the Patriots visit the Baltimore Ravens.
A rookie receiver making an impact in the New England offense is no guarantee, but Harry would add some much-needed size (6-foot-4, 225 lbs) to Tom Brady’s arsenal. The Patriots aren’t getting much production out of tight ends Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, but Harry would give Brady a big body over the middle, in addition to a potential weapon on the outside.