In a week that was supposed to be N’Keal Harry’s big debut, it looks like the Patriots may have tipped off their plan to cover him.
After an abysmal 7-9 season last year, the New England Patriots overhauled their offensive personnel. Bill Belichick and his staff embarked on a free-agent shopping spree, bringing in a slew of weapons for either veteran quarterback Cam Newton or rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is one of those weapons. Whether it was on purpose or not, Bourne may have given us a glimpse of what to expect in Week 1, and it doesn’t look good for once-promising wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
The Fresh England Patriots have a lot of new faces on offense, including Kendrick Bourne.
On July 28, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne makes a catch during training camp at Gillette Stadium. | Getty Images/Kathryn Riley
The first year without Tom Brady didn’t go as planned. The Patriots offensively battled tremendously during a season marked by upheaval and difficulties brought on by the epidemic. The Patriots ended 7-9, including 7-8 with Newton as quarterback, and failed to move the ball. In 15 games, Newton threw eight touchdown passes.
Belichick made the unusual decision to overhaul the offense via free agency. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are two of the best tight ends in the league. At wide receiver, he added Bourne and Nelson Agholor, bolstering a position that had been hampered by Julian Edelman’s injury and subsequent retirement.
As if that wasn’t enough, Belichick selected Alabama quarterback Jones with a first-round selection. If the passing game fails again, Jones is anticipated to put pressure on Newton, who is likely on a short leash.
The Patriots’ Week 1 strategy may have been revealed by Kendrick Bourne, and it doesn’t look good for N’Keal Harry.
Kendrick Bourne was dissatisfied with his performance versus Washington. He said that he hurried a couple of his journeys, which “really irritated (him).” He’s thankful for the preseason to iron out the kinks. pic.twitter.com/33EHwqwgtl
— August 15, 2023, Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN)
Bourne, a 6-foot-1 receiver, played with the 49ers for the previous four seasons. Despite never having more than 49 receptions in a season, he is projected to be one of the Patriots’ top pass catchers. Along with Jakobi Meyers and Harry, he and another newcomer, Agholor, are anticipated to see a lot of action. Last year, Meyers and Harry were with the New England Patriots.
Agholor was not in uniform for the preseason opener because he missed some practice time. After Sunday’s practice, Bourne talked with media and may have hinted at how the Patriots’ receivers will appear when the regular season begins against the Miami Dolphins.
According to WEEI, Bourne said, “Nelly is getting better.” “I’m not sure what he’s going through, but he looked great today.” He seemed to be back. We’re hoping to get him back out there for preseason as well. Seeing myself, him, and Jakobi together would be awesome. That seems to be the game plan heading into Game 1. Hopefully, everyone is in good health.”
Harry, the team’s first-round selection in 2019, will be left scrambling for playing time and a roster berth if that is the goal.
Harry’s agency has already requested a move for the wide receiver.
Harry has only been with the Patriots for two seasons, but it is obvious that things aren’t going well. Early in July, Harry’s agent, Jamal Tooson, released a statement claiming he had requested the Patriots to transfer his client before training camp began.
“Following many discussions with the Patriots, I feel it is time for a new start and that it is best for all sides if N’Keal leaves before training camp begins,” the statement said in part. “That is why, on behalf of my client, I have officially requested a trade with the Patriots today.”
A deal was never made. Harry is still with the club, but according to Bourne, the former first-round selection is in for another lengthy season.
Harry has 45 receptions for 414 yards and four touchdowns in two years with the Patriots. If Bourne is correct about the Patriots’ strategy, things will only get worse.
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