Rookie receievers get their feet more than wet in Pats win
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The kids were all right.
Yes, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, the Sunday performance of rookie receivers N’Keal Harry and Jakobi wasn’t “perfect”, but “Yeah, they stepped up.”
Harry had one just one catch, targeted four times, but it was a big one, the lone touchdown in a 13-9 rain and wind swept win over the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. In fact, Harry was No. 75 – the 75th player to have caught a touchdown pass thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over what will be a Hall of Fame career.
Meyers, meanwhile, was targeted nine times, but despite a couple of drops had four receptions for 74 yards, including a long of 32.
With veteran wideouts
“They played a lot pf plays and proud of those two,” Brady said. “They put a lot of effort in this week and they’re making improvements, and it was great to see. They both came through with some big plays for us – we needed it – and did a great job.”
“I think they’re learning every time they step on the field,” Belichick said, “whether it’s practice field, gamefield, or even walkthrough, but certainly they made plays today that we needed to win.
“There weren’t a lot of points scored, and they were involved in either the field position, or the actual scoring of it, that N’Keal had. So yeah, they did a nice job.”
Harry, the Patriots first round pick, was asked what he was thinking on his touchdown catch.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything, really,” he said. “I was just thinking about playing the game.”
Harry said despite the conditions, he felt he still could have done more.
“I’m definitely not satisfied,” he said. “And anyone who knows me knows I want to turn it up a notch. … And get back to work.
“We’re (he and Meyers) are just trying to get better.”
Harry, who just returned last week from a long stint in injured reserve, said that each and every day he and Brady “connect more.”
As for Meyers, he said he was thrilled for his fellow rookie.
“I am so happy for him because he has worked so hard just to get there,” he said. “I am so proud of him and it actually was a really big moment for him so I am really excited.”
Meyers, who went undrafted, said being a rookie with the Patriots is a huge challenge.
“It just shows that we have been working hard, hyou know it isn’t easy for rookies to go in there and play,” he said. “Both me and N’Keal always come in here and do extra work to try to make sure we are ready for when they call on us.”
Especially when Brady does. Meyers said getting Brady to have trust in him “has probably been one of the toughest things about being here but I am going to keep working at it, not give up and hopefully I keep chipping away each day.”
Harry and Meyers were critical to the Patriot offense because they were without both usual regular but injured receivers, Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu. But corner Jason McCourty was also out, added to Friday’s injury report with a groin issue and inactive yesterday. Also inactive were third QB Cody Kessler, running back Damien Harris, offensive lineman Korey Cunningham and tight end Ryan Izzo.
Injured linebacker Leighton Vander Esch headed the Cowboys incactive lit, which also included wide receivers Cedrick Wilson and Devin Smith, safety Donovan Wilson, defensive linemen Joe Jackson and Trysten Hill, and guard Brandon Knight.
One player who was almost inactive for the Patriots was offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who has been ill recently, didn’t warm up prior to the game but managed to still play here and there on Sunday. In fact, the Patriots felt he was so courageous to be playing that Belichick singled him out in his post game remarks.
“One of the real top efforts today would have to go to Marcus Cannon,” he said. “Marcus was, three days, just feeling under the weather. I honestly didn’t expect him to play today.
“We talked before the game and he felt like he’d been able to work through it, so we tried to help him out a little bit there at the half. But I would say overall, it was one of the top efforts I’ve seen.
“For a guy who just barely had enough strength to put on his uniform, went out there and played against multiple good football players. … Played tough, and is the kind of leadership and toughness that we have on this team, so that was a great job by Marcus.”
Cannon, meanwhile, didn’t think he had done anything special but was “thankful” for Belichick’s remarks.
“Guys play sick all the time,” Cannon said. “There were other guys that were sick. There’s been guys before me and there were guys who played today that were sick.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a few remarks about how Belichick was “masterful” and praised the Patriots special teams after the game. But he wouldn’t talk about a couple of critical tripping penalties against the Dallas offensive line.
“I don’t want to go to those calls,” he said. “We had plenty of opportunites to establish ourselves in all phases of the ball game. They won the specual teams and they took it to us. When you come into New England on a day like today against this team and you need to win this to establish what you are about for the season, you have dealt yourself a pretty narrow window to come out of her e smiling.”
The Patriots will have Monday and Tuesday off before reporting back to practice on Wednesday…
Patriots back Sony Michel had one of his better games of the season, with 85 yards on 20 carries, and a long run of 17 yards…
Conversely, Patriot back James White continues to be less of a factor than usual. He had just two carries for five yards and one reception (targeted three times) for minus-6 yards…
Next up for the Patriots: At Houston next Sunday night.