N'Keal Harry injury scare among topics to watch for ahead of Patriots preseason debut

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

It appears that N'Keal Harry avoided a serious injury scare for now. But the way the Patriots handle their first-round rookie wide receiver for the rest of the week will be telling as to how badly he got banged up.

Harry came up hobbled after an 11-on-11 drill during the Patriots' joint practice with the Lions in Allen Park, Mich. on Tuesday, according to multiple reports from those in attendance. He spent some time on the sidelines with head trainer Jim Whalen as he worked on what appeared to be his right leg. Others say Harry focused on his hamstring at times.

The good news is that Harry eventually reentered team drills and blocked. So while he clearly tweaked something at one point during practice, he almost certainly avoided anything too damaging.

However, it's still worth monitoring how the Pats handle Harry's workload for the final joint practice on Wednesday and their preseason debut against the Lions on Thursday at Ford Field. If he ends up limited in practice, perhaps the team decides to hold him out for precautionary reasons.

But if Harry is full-bore on Wednesday and plays on Thursday, that's a sure sign that whatever temporarily ailed him in practice is already in the rearview mirror. It's obviously a great sign of nothing serious that Harry was able to return to practice, but we'll see if he feels the same way the following morning.

May 23, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry catches a pass during organized team activities at Gillette Stadium practice field. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
May 23, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry catches a pass during organized team activities at Gillette Stadium practice field. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Some other topics to think about for Wednesday and Thursday:

-- Young pass-rushers on the rise. Guys like Michael Bennett, Derek Rivers, John Simon, and Deatrich Wise seem to be all but assured of roster spots as the Patriots' core edge rushers. But rookie third-round pick Chase Winovich is also a lock to make the team and his strong week so far in Detroit may push him up the depth chart quicker than expected. Fourth-year pro Shilique Calhoun has also begun to flash as a pass-rusher, which should make for more intense competition with guys closer to the bubble like Keionta Davis and Ufomba Kamalu.

-- Jakobi Meyers continuing to roll. The undrafted rookie receiver out of N.C. State has made as strong a case as you can expect to make the 53-man roster. He's been getting first-team reps in walkthroughs and 11-on-11 drills over Harry and others. We'll get a more accurate gauge of where Meyers is in his development when he gets into real game action on Thursday night. But if he stays consistent with what he's been recently and keeps getting first reps, he'll sew up a spot before the end of the preseason.

-- How ready is Sony Michel to be a weapon in the passing game? Michel has been turning heads since returning to training camp because of his performance as a receiver. He's getting first-team looks and working closely with Tom Brady. The second-year back out of Georgia appears much further along as a passing game back than he was a year ago, when he missed the entire preseason and most of camp. If he can add a receiving dimension to his game in year two, he'll become a much more dangerous player and ease the burden off the Patriots' new-look receivers and tight ends.

Live updates coming from all the fine Patriots reporters in attendance in Michigan are coming later Wednesday morning.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].