Who is Chris Harris Jr. in 2016?
A two-time NFL All-Pro cornerback, a Super Bowl champion and a critical cog in the Denver Broncos’ suffocating defense.
But who was Chris Harris Jr. in 2011?
An undrafted rookie listed at fifth string on the depth chart. Back during his first NFL training camp, Harris knew he had to make a strong impression to avoid getting cut. To do so, he treated every rep like a game and cherished the opportunity to cover the team’s best receivers.
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“Coming in as an undrafted rookie, I wanted to make sure I competed every day against those talented receivers. Brandon Lloyd, he was a great guy to go against because I did a lot of scout team. Going against him every day along with all those other receivers really helped me polish my game,” Harris told STACK in an interview.
At the time, Lloyd was coming off a sensational 2010 season, in which he posted 1,448 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Harris practiced with so much intensity that the coaches often had to tell him to take it down a notch—partially because he kept finding himself on the receiving end of Tim Tebow’s passes.
“A lot of times, [coaches] had to tell me to cut back, don’t pick off a lot of Tebow’s balls. That’s how hard I was out there working,” Harris said.
Just imagine that for a second. Tebow was a Heisman trophy winner on whom Denver had used a first-round draft pick in 2010. Yet here was Harris, an undrafted player out of the University of Kansas, picking him off so often that the coaches had to tell him to cool it.
Harris would go on to win the team’s Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year awards during the 2011 season, solidifying himself as a key member of the franchise. Following the 2011 season, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He hasn’t thrown an official NFL pass since 2012.
Let this be a lesson to all those football players grinding in training camp right now. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve done before—if you play hard and make plays, you’ll get where you want to go.
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