Harmon looking to become a more complete player, maybe add weight

Harmon looking to become a more complete player, maybe add weight

Because of the prevalence of the passing game in the NFL, and because of the reliance on nickel packages to defend the passing game, good safeties -- even ones who aren't considered starters -- are as valuable as ever. 

Duron Harmon, for example, doesn't typically start for the Patriots. However, he's played in over 50 percent of the defensive snaps for Bill Belichick in each of the last two seasons, and he re-signed with New England last week, coming to terms on a four-year contract that will pay him $9 million in base salary over the life of the deal. 

Typically the team's choice in the deep middle of the field on passing downs, Harmon acknowledged in a conference call Friday that he'd like to become a more well-rounded player as he begins his second run with the Patriots.

"I think, I would say, the run area is a key [area] where I feel that I can grow in," he said. "My tackling could be a little bit more aggressive, and I think that’s going to come with putting on a little bit more weight, being able to bang down there. So I think that area is key and could be an area I could grow a lot in, I believe."

Harmon is listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds but said he'd try to gain two or three pounds and see how it feels as he gets ready for the regular season. 

"I’ll try it out maybe in OTAs and minicamp and just see how I feel, and how I like moving around a little heavier," he said. "Maybe like 207, 208."

Harmon makes up a safety group that is among the team's most experienced along with Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. McCourty typically thrives in the deep portion of the field on early downs, but he can be used in a variety of ways in coverage and against the run. Chung often plays in the box, providing effective run support and blanketing tight ends. 

If Harmon adds weight and finds the level of aggressiveness he's looking for, perhaps he can become a more versatile chess piece to help keep opposing offenses on their toes. 

Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week

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Dorsett (knee) hoping to be able to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The picture at wide receiver wasn't pretty for the Patriots by the time the clock hit zeros in the fourth quarter in New Orleans over the weekend. 

Chris Hogan looked hobbled for much of the second half. Phillip Dorsett left with a knee injury. Danny Amendola was ruled out well in advance of kickoff with a concussion and a knee injury. Matthew Slater was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Brandin Cooks looked like the only Patriots wideout to finish the game feeling spry.

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But as the team prepares for the Texans this week, Dorsett is hoping he'll be back on the field with his teammates for practice. 

"I feel good," Dorsett said in the Patriots locker room Monday. "Just a little sore, but I'm alright."

Not only would it help the Patriots offense to have another body available at receiver, but Dorsett understands how crucial it is for him to practice as much as possible. He was acquired in a trade with the Colts just before the season, and he knows he has work to do to get adjusted to his new offense.

"It's just me going out there and getting the plays in practice," Dorsett said when asked about his confidence level in running New England's system. "I feel like practice builds my confidence. If I get to play in practice, I feel more comfortable when it comes to the game."

Dorsett looked comfortable in Week 2, catching three passes for 68 yards. His first grab in the first quarter went for 23 yards and came on a play when Tom Brady, who was hit as he released, threw a floater down the right sideline. Dorsett alertly saw the pass falling short and worked back toward the line of scrimmage to make the catch. 

"I think he trusts me," Dorsett said of Brady. "We work a lot during practice and after practice. Hopefully we can continue to gain more trust as the season goes on. It's only the second game. We got a long way to go."

More practice time would be helpful in allowing that relationship to continue to grow. We'll see if Dorsett gets any when the Patriots take the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

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