The New England Patriots didn't make any marquee wide receiver additions in the offseason, so they needed N'Keal Harry to play a lot better in his second season than he did as a rookie.
So far, Harry has delivered.
Harry gave his best performance with the Patriots in Sunday night's Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He set career highs with eight receptions, 72 receiving yards and 12 targets.
The 2019 first-round pick also was a factor late in the game with four receptions for 50 yards on seven targets from quarterback Cam Newton in the fourth quarter. Harry caught three passes for 42 yards on the Patriots' final drive of the game, one that ended a yard short of the game-winning touchdown.
Harry's improvement has not gone unnoticed by his teammates, and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman had plenty of praise for the young wideout Friday.
"With any young guy, it's just becoming a professional. I've been super proud of N'Keal and how he's continually progressed in that facet of professional sports," Edelman said on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show."
"It's (night) and day from last year of how he is. It's not too big. He has a year under his belt. He's confident in certain abilities. That's when things start to go well, is when you start getting comfortable, and then your athletic ability can take its place when the game slows down because you're mentally into it. It's awesome he's been doing what he's been doing. We're going to need him to keep on doing that."
Harry already has more receptions (13) and receiving yards (111) through two games this season than he did in seven games as a rookie.
The challenge for Harry going forward is playing at the level he did against the Seahawks on a consistent basis. Harry never had back-to-back games of three or more receptions as a rookie. He's tallied five-plus receptions in both games to start the 2020 season.
The Patriots could bring in a veteran wide receiver before the Nov. 3 trade deadline, but the likeliest outcome is probably the team rolling with its current wideout group. If that's what ultimately happens, the Patriots will need Harry to continue improving if this offense is going to reach its maximum potential.