N'Keal Harry could return to practice field this week

Ryan Hannable
October 14, 2019 - 11:07 am

It is Week 7 of the NFL season, which means all players who started the year on injured reserve, but are able to return, can begin practicing.

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For the Patriots, that is rookie N'Keal Harry.

On a conference call Monday morning, Bill Belichick was asked if the team plans on having on the practice field this week?

"If he's ready, yes," he said. "We hope he will be ready to go."

Belichick added: "Mentally, he's been able to keep up with everything. Physically, he needs to be able to show he can go out there and participate competitively at the practice level we're at. Hopefully that is where it will be, but we'll make our final evaluations on that before we put him out there."

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport is reporting the team is expecting to have him on the field this week.

Harry has battled injuries since the summer when he played in just the first preseason game before an ankle injury sidelined him for the rest of the preseason, and ultimately landed him on injured reserve. 

While he was a first-round pick, he's missed a lot of time and is behind the rest of the offense.

"I think the fairest thing to do for any young player, especially a guy who has missed as much time as N'Keal has missed, is we have to get him back on the practice field," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Monday. "We have to make smart decisions about when he's ready to do what. Certainly, to put a player back in a position and say, 'Hey, do everything and do it all well. And do it all well under pressure. And do it all well under pressure against seven different defensive looks that you might get. And different personnel on the field each week that (he) hasn't necessarily played against.' I think there's things hopefully we can build into and do quicker than others. I think the practice field and the results we get on the practice field will tell us when the right time is to use him in different roles. It is really no different for him now than it would be at the very beginning of the season.

"You get him in there and he's going to make some mistakes. He's going to learn from them. Hopefully he improves because it. I think we're going to use our practice repetitions and the work that we put in on the practice field each week moving forward as kind of the barometer to kind of tell us when the right time is to do more, or to maybe pull back and do less. The goal for him will be the same as it is for each one of our other players -- let's try and put him in position to do something he does well on gameday. If we're doing that then we are being fair to the player and giving him an opportunity to go out there and play fast and aggressive, which is the goal."

The first game Harry can play in is Week 9 against Baltimore.

Related: Tom Brady via GHS: 'Bogus' not to consider Julian Edelman top-25 wide receiver