Chris Harris Jr. didn’t play last Thursday against the Chicago Bears in the Denver Broncos preseason opener. He is, however, ready to go to work, a fact that was made clear with his fight in Monday's practice.
For an All-Pro with a ring and a big contract, Harris' prove-it attitude has remained within the undrafted Kansas Jayhawk. While few fans might put importance into any sort of preseason results, Harris gave some insights into what doing well in preseason means, even if he didn’t play.
“We just want to continue that same thing,” said No. 25. “Build off of what we did last week. Last year, we were No. 1 in preseason defense, so we want to continue that same thing, be No. 1 in the preseason and be No. 1 in the regular season. Keep it rolling.”
With the shutout performance by a defense that created turnovers and seldom allowed first downs, even a consummate perfectionist like Harris struggled to find many areas that needed improvement.
“From that last game, it's definitely hard to pick some things out,” explained the NFL’s best nickel corner. “I didn't play. Usually, I'll come out with my own little things on what I need to work on, but defensively, it's hard to say. The only thing you can say is that we gave up a couple of big plays, but we were pretty flawless.”
Harris says he’s ready to play now, even though he’s still not sure if the coaching staff will let him or rest him. One thing the star corner did know, or at least seemed fairly certain about, was the defensive depth in Denver.
“I definitely think so,” said Harris when asked if this year's defense was deeper then the 2015 champs. “We're going to have a lot of depth, especially corner-wise. Everybody is more mature, especially in the secondary. It's hard to find many holes. Even with our young guys, they play very well. We just have to continue to get better and continue to get ready for Carolina. That's the only thing we can do.”
The secondary depth and, in particular, the budding youth on the unit has been noticeable in camp.
“They just continue to make plays,” said Harris when asked about Kayvon Webster and Lorenzo Doss. “Just continuing to learn every day, there's something that you have to fix every day. Those guys are doing a good job of fixing their errors, not making the same mistakes two days in a row. I think that's huge for a young corner.”
With all the potential improvements that top-100 player sees, he’s still reiterated that their philosophy has yet to change.
“It's the same,” said Harris. “Same chemistry—I would say even more. Everybody has a habit of winning and we come out here and practice with fire. That's something that you like from a championship team.”
"Nothing is going to change,” added Harris. “We feel that we're going to be gritty. We're going to get up in your face; we're going to play man coverage and we're going to bring the heat. Same thing that we did last year.”
For the Broncos to repeat their defensive success, Chris Harris Jr. will be a crucial cog, but as the team has improved, so has their depth, it seems the team now has an embarrassment of riches in the back of the defense.