Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is considered one of the best players at his position, and is part of the Broncos secondary, that everybody calls the “No Fly Zone”. Harris is entering his 7th season in the NFL, he spoke with the media after the team’s scrimmage Saturday.
He had an interception during the scrimmage, and walked the media through what he saw on the play: “My man actually ran a vertical; I kind of left him, let him go and jumped the route. That’s called route recognition. I’m just at that level of smart to be able to let my man go and be able to jump routes.”
The cornerback says it doesn’t matter who their opponent’s quarterback is, and credits the defense’s film study for their successes: “We try to set the tone against any quarterback we play. We’re very great at preparing for games, knowing what’s coming and I think that’s really what makes us who we are. We take it seriously when we go in the classroom. We try to come out here and bring that classroom to the field. When we play Chicago, we’ll be ready to roll.”
After practicing against the same players over and over again in training camp, players tend to get chippy with each other and things heat up because they want to compete against different players on the other 31 NFL teams. “I can’t wait to hit somebody else. I’m tired of going against ‘E’ and ‘D.T.,’ and I’m pretty sure they’re tired of going against us. It’s at that time where you’re ready to see some other receivers and get ready for the season,” Harris told the media. “I think we’ve got four more weeks, five weeks to get ready for San Diego. You just try to work every day, try to get better and try to get in better shape … I’m ready to be at my best come Monday Night.”
Harris played in all 16 games in 2016, and had 63 tackles, 11 pass deflections, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.
He spoke highly of teammate and fellow No Fly Zone defender, TJ Ward. He says there is a big difference when Ward is on the field with him and when he isn’t: “It definitely changes. He’s one of our enforcers. He’s our starting dime so when we go to nickel, I work with T.J. a lot … Now I’ve got to work with Will or Justin and I’ve got to get my chemistry right with those guys, too. … But for ‘Lib’ and Roby, it doesn’t change too much.”
Safeties Will Parks and Justin Simmons are both entering their 2nd years as backups at the safety position, behind Darian Stewart and TJ Ward. Harris is optimistic about the improvements of the two backups. “They’ve grown a lot. They understand the whole defense now,” Ward said. “They played a lot last year but I think this year they’ll play even more. Both of those guys are really competing for that third safety to really be able to play full time because we play three safeties a lot. It’s a great competition between those two.”
The Broncos committed 119 penalties last season, which was the 6th most in the NFL. During the team’s scrimmage Saturday, the offense committed many penalties and Harris Jr. was asked about it. “That’s something that we don’t have time for really. We don’t need those penalties; we can’t afford them on the offensive side of the ball. … We don’t want to beat ourselves … We’re looking for those guys to make plays, get the ball down the field, make those good runs and put some points on the board.”
Denver plays their first preseason game on Thursday, August 10, and will have plenty more opportunities to clean up their game and reduce penalties.