(BOSTON HERALD) – Tom Brady wasn’t pulling the trigger on the passes, but it was still an impressive coming out party for the Patriots young gun receivers.
Rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, who have stood out in practice sessions of late, once again showed off their athleticism and ability to make plays in Thursday night’s 31-3 rout of the Lions in the preseason opener for both teams.
Before limping off after one of his catches, Harry made a pair of memorable plays down the sideline. They were the kind of plays the Patriots were hoping to get when Bill Belichick made him the first wide receiver chosen in the first round during his tenure.
Harry showcased those talents, first extending to make a nice grab on a Brian Hoyer throw in the opening quarter. The Patriots were facing third-and-10 on the Lions 23 and were able to move the chains thanks to the wideout stretching his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame toward the sideline to haul in the football.
That set up Hoyer’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Harris. On the next series, Harry once again made some noise, making a contested catch down the left side line. He went up for the jump ball, and pulled down another Hoyer pass, leaving Jamal Agnew in his wake. It went for a 25-yard gain, but Harry walked off the field with a noticeable limp after trying to line up for the next play.
He was tended to by the Patriots medical staff, and watched the rest of the half from the sidelines. He didn’t come out for the second half. Basically, Meyers took the baton from Harry after he left in the first quarter. The undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State scored two touchdowns.
In the first half alone, Meyers had five catches for 52 yards and a pair of scores, one from Hoyer, the other from rookie Jarrett Stidham, who entered the game late in the second quarter. Meyers wound up with six receptions for 69 yards, leading both teams.
The Patriots receivers, as a whole, had a productive night, but Harry and Meyers were the stars. There’s been a lot written about the duo lately, and both delivered with strong efforts, right on cue.
“You never know how it’s going to transition from practice to game. All those guys it was their first game in the NFL. They answered the bell,” Hoyer said with respect to the rookies after the game. “The step up wasn’t too big for them. They did a really good job. This is just one building block.”
The Patriots greatly need an infusion of young talent at the position, and as first impressions go, this was certainly encouraging, Harry’s injury notwithstanding.