Chris Harris Jr. Ready To Be 'Activated'

Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. is knee-deep in learning his new playbook and is still smarting from not being assigned to cover T.Y. Hilton in the Broncos Divisional Round playoff loss to the Colts.

Monday, Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. spoke with assembled media at the team's headquarters at Dove Valley and was enthused with the more aggressive role new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will assign him, among other things.

When fielding questions about if his approach is different from a year ago, Harris said “Right now, I'm still trying to make sure my leg is even stronger coming into this season. It's a lot of mental right now. I'm really just learning the defense the best I can.”

The question that really caused Harris to light up was regarding Phillips' new defensive scheme and Harris’ role in it. He replied, “I would say that it's going to rely a lot more on me and (cornerback Aqib) Talib to really make a lot of plays.”

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When asked if he could have earned more money on the open market rather than signing an extension with the Broncos last season, Harris said, “Everybody knows that if I had hit the market that I wouldn't have been here.”

He also was grateful about signing early with the Broncos, saying, “ That was the best thing about signing early is being able to stay here with the Broncos where I wanted to stay. I'm happy with it.”

Harris also believes the secondary has tremendous potential, saying, “The sky is the limit for us. If we come out and play with great technique and great communication, we should be the best.”

It is no secret that the Broncos have a stable (pardon the pun) of useful and versatile defensive backs, among them is second-year cornerback Bradley Roby, who may potentially get work at safety in the offseason. When asked about this, Harris said, “It's about getting the best players out there on the field. A lot of times we're going to have six defensive backs out there on the field and you want your best six out there. Roby can play safety or corner, and K-Web (CB Kayvon Webster) can play safety or corner.”

When asked how he feels about the new coaching staff, Harris stated, “I'm excited. Just going through the defense. I'm excited for (defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips to activate me to be able to make a lot of plays.”

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Harris was also asked about what he has been doing since last season ended and confirmed, “I'm just trying to learn this defense. I'm feeling great.” The media asked for further elaboration on Harris' usage of what it meant to be “activated” to which he replied, “ That's what they've been telling me so hopefully it means call my number to go make a play, be able to blitz and do everything. I'm still learning what activate means to, I'm just trying to learn.”

When questioned if he can be more aggressive in Phillips' defensive scheme, Harris said, “Everybody else is going to be a lot more aggressive. I've just got to cover my man a lot of the times in this defense. In the slot, I'm still going to be blitzing, playing man (coverage) and doing everything that I always have in the past.”

In closing, Harris expressed his desire to cover the talented receivers in the NFL one-on-one, such as Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, whome Harris did not cover in the Indianapolis Colts upset victory over the Broncos in the Divisional playoffs last season.

When asked if he was disappointed about it, he replied, “ You always want to cover a guy like him. He's small and shifty. That's what God put me on this earth for—for guys like him. I was definitely irritated, but it's a new year. We're going to play them again. I'm pretty sure I'll be on him this year.”

With all of this said, as I expressed on Twitter Monday afternoon when perusing these comments in real time, I was thoroughly impressed with Harris as I have always been. He is the type of humble player, who is a team leader but has great pride as an athlete and wants to compete against the best so he can be the best himself.

In that vein of thought, if head coach Gary Kubiak and Phillips can instill this type of attitude in all of the Broncos' players, the sky is truly the limit, not only for the secondary but the entire team as well.

Brad James is an analyst for You can find him on Twitter @BroncosItaly.

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