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Cam Newton defends wide receiver N’Keal Harry over fumble

Patriots

New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry committed a near-costly fumble in the team’s Week 1 win over the Miami Dolphins. Despite the mistake, Harry’s confident quarterback has plenty of trust in the wideout.

Harry, who had five catches for 39 yards on six targets last Sunday, fumbled away his first potential score of the season. With the Patriots up 14-3 and looking to put the game away in the third quarter, Harry lost control of the football while running towards the pylon, causing the ball to roll past the goal line and out of bounds, resulting in a touchback (thanks to one of the sport’s strangest rules).

The turnover momentarily kept the Dolphins hopes alive, as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led his team on an ensuing touchdown drive and two-point conversion. Ultimately, Harry’s turnover didn’t cost the Patriots, who came away with a relatively comfortable 21-11 win in Foxborough.

Still, the Patriots don’t traditionally put up with a ton of mistakes. On Wednesday, Newton told reporters he spoke with Harry about the play and chose to accentuate the positive.

“I think that one play overshadowed the production he did have,” Patriots QB Cam Newton said. “He bailed me out on a play, on a kind of inaccurate pass that he came down with and got the first down. He did pretty good in the run game. He had a couple of contested catches…he knows [the fumble’s] unacceptable. But…when you just put things into perspective, and you call an apple an apple, and a spade a spade, it was just one mistake. Him still being a young player, trying to come into his own, things like that will happen. You just want it to be minimized as much as possible.”

Newton also re-iterated his belief in his Harry’s development and work ethic.

“He’s making leaps and strides as everyone would expect him to be. He’s growing up into his best self. For him, after chatting with him, he knows he has to make practice game-like, and that’s the only thing you can imagine.”

The former no. 1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner said he also connected with the 2019 first-round pick via his experience working with young pass-catchers.

“The thing that makes me and N’Keal even more closer; I told N’Keal my spiel. Obviously being at Carolina, I’ve had a N’Keal in my life for as long as my career has existed…Being a high-invested draft pick, dating back to Kelvin Benjamin, to Devin Funchess…then you invest in Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey. So it’s nothing new [for me] to come on a team and you have young talent at receiver, and trying to morph him into the best player he can possibly be. I know N’Keal is buying in, not only to my theory and methods but also to the team as well.”

As a rookie, the 6’4 Harry had 12 receptions on 24 targets in seven games with Tom Brady, resulting in 105 yards and two touchdowns.