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N'Keal Harry eager to return to game action

Bears receiver N'Keal Harry
Bears receiver N'Keal Harry

With a full week of practice under his belt, receiver N'Keal Harry is hoping to make his Bears debut Monday night against his former team, the New England Patriots.

The fourth-year pro returned to practice Oct. 5 for the first time since injuring his ankle Aug. 6 in training camp. He was not given an injury designation last week but was not active last Thursday night against the Commanders.

Harry was acquired by the Bears July 13 in a trade with the Patriots in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round pick. He was selected by New England in the first round of the 2019 draft (32nd overall) and played his first three NFL seasons there.

Though eager to play Monday night in his return to Gillette Stadium, Harry isn't fixated on gaining revenge against the organization that traded him to the Bears.

"I'm trying not to get too caught up in it being the Patriots and it being my former team," Harry said Friday. "I'm obviously excited. I'm excited to see some of my guys pregame. I went through a lot with some of those guys that came in with my [rookie] class. So I'm excited to see them, but I'm just excited to get out there finally."

The Bears have not confirmed that Harry will play, but if the 6-4, 225-pounder does see action, he'll bring an element to the offense that's been missing.

"He's a big body," said quarterback Justin Fields. "Great at jump balls. Great run blocker, so he's definitely going to be a weapon for the offense, for sure."

"I feel like I bring a big presence of physicality," Harry said. "I can help with the run game. I can help [as] a downfield threat. I'm just excited to do my role and do my part."

Harry feels that he's ready to make an impact if called upon.

"My body has healed the right way," he said. "I've got a chance to get my feet up under me in this offense, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable and I'm excited to go."

The Bears hit the Halas Hall practice fields Thursday afternoon for their first practice of the week ahead of Monday night's road game against the Patriots.

The receiver has benefited from working with Fields this week in practice.

"Over this past week it's been good, just getting out there getting reps," Harry said, "seeing the type of throws he likes to make, seeing the type of footballs I like to catch. It's been good this week."

The Bears are hopeful that a healthy Harry will provide a boost to a passing game that ranks last in the NFL, averaging just 122.8 yards per game.

"I'm excited to see," said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. "There's a little bit of the unknown because he just hasn't been out there. Didn't get to do the preseason. Didn't get to play any games yet. So it's a little bit of that unknown.

"He's getting better. He's a smart player. In training camp he started giving us the flexibility of being able to put him in a bunch of different positions. Big, strong guy that we can use in a bunch of different ways. I'm excited to see where he can go."

Harry is determined to make the most of his second chance with the Bears. He failed to perform up to expectations with the Patriots, catching 57 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 33 games over three seasons. His most productive campaign was in 2020 when he had 33 receptions for 309 yards and two TDs. Last year he played in 12 games with four starts, catching 12 passes for 184 yards.

"It could be a lot of different factors that led into that [lack of success in New England]," Harry said. "But I'm really not worried about any of that.

"I'm excited to get out there and show what I can do. I just want to do my part and do whatever I can to help this team win. At the end of the day, the only thing I really care about is how I look to my teammates when we cut that film after the game. Their opinion of me matters the most. That's what matters."