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Training Camp Report

N'Keal Harry driven to make most of 'fresh start'

New Bears WR N'Keal Harry

Two weeks ago, N'Keal Harry was taking a nap between workouts when he was awakened with some life-changing news.

After three less than stellar seasons with the New England Patriots, the 6-4, 225-pound receiver had been traded to the Bears in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft pick.

"I was actually asleep and my manager was at my house and he came downstairs, told me I just got traded, and when he told me I got traded to the Bears, man I was excited," Harry said. "I jumped up out of bed. I was just excited; that was just my initial feeling."

With the Bears, Harry will be granted a second opportunity to prove that he can become the type of NFL receiver that many envisioned when he was selected by the Patriots with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2019 draft.

"I just feel like it is a good fit for me," Harry said. "Even when I came into the building, I just felt a lot of good vibes. Everybody here is excited. I'm looking forward to the season, and it's just a reset for me, a good reset."

Harry was a productive playmaker at Arizona State, where he caught 213 passes for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns over three seasons. After topping 1,000 yards in each of his final two years, he was the second receiver selected in the draft—after the Ravens had chosen Marquise Brown at No. 25.

But Harry never emerged as expected in New England, catching just 57 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns while appearing in 33 games with 18 starts over three seasons. He requested a trade a year ago but remained with the Patriots and was limited to 12 receptions for 184 yards in 2021.

After finally being dealt a year later, Harry has arrived in Chicago driven to excel.

"I've got a real chip on my shoulder," he said. "I'm looking to come in and do anything I can to help this team win. I feel like I fit very well within the offense, so I'm ready to go.

"I feel like it really is a fresh start, a much-needed fresh start for me. I am excited … I feel like I'm at a very good place mentally. I put in a lot of work this offseason and I'm ready for it to show on the field."

Harry didn't hesitate when asked what he intends to prove in training camp.

"I just want to show how dominant I could be as a player in the NFL," he said.

Harry described his greatest skill as a receiver as the ability to "go up and get the ball when the ball's in the air." He added that he feels he's a perfect fit in the Bears offense.

"Just being a big guy, being able to block, being able to go up and get the ball, I feel like that could come in handy and that is something that will really work well here," Harry said.

The day after the trade, Bears quarterback Justin Fields reached out to Harry via text, welcoming him to the team.

"He was, of course, excited to be here and I'm excited for what he can do," Fields said. "We all saw what he did at Arizona State in college, and just his frame, what he can do as a playmaker, I'm very excited to see what he can do on the field."

Granted a second opportunity in Chicago, Harry was asked whether he's more motivated to prove the Patriots wrong or the Bears right.

"It's proving everybody who believes in me right: my family, my fans, my coaches, just everybody who's going to bat for me and knows what I can do," he said. "It's for those people."

With an open competition at receiver behind emerging star Darnell Mooney, Harry is among a slew of hopefuls looking to become a regular contributor on offense this season.

"This is a golden opportunity for all of us; it's just who's going to grab it," Harry said. "I just feel for me to capitalize off this, like I said earlier, I just have to show how dominant I am, and I just need to be that big, strong wide receiver."

The Bears hit the fields at Halas Hall on Wednesday for the first practice of Enjoy Illinois Training Camp where they welcomed about 30 groups, including the Highland Park High School football team, as part of "Community Day."

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