The Minnesota Vikings have a number of players competing for the starting safety spot next to Harrison Smith, one of whom is second-year player Anthony Harris. The team signed him as an undrafted free agent last year and he spent a majority of his rookie season on the practice squad.
It wasn’t until Week 14 of the regular season that Harris was promoted to the active roster. The Vikings were decimated at the safety position and needed Harris to fill in against the No. 1 offense at the time, the Arizona Cardinals.
He was able to step up to the challenge, recording eight tackles and a pass breakup that ended up saving a touchdown. He was also forced to start the following week against the Chicago Bears, where he performed well once again.
Harris has primarily been working with the third-team defense so far through organized team activities, minicamp and training camp, but he is listed as being Smith’s immediate backup on the team’s first depth chart. He doesn’t focus on all that too often, though, as he tries to improve, and prove, himself each day.
“Each day is something new,” he said. “You want to pick something out, try to get better at, add to your game. These days coaches are telling you to pick something out to focus on, and sometimes they give us tips on what that should be. Sometimes it’s just you as a player focusing on what you think you should get better at.
“Just come out each day and be consistent. Make the right calls, be in the right positions and try to make big plays when they come to me.”
Making big plays and creating turnovers has been a focus for the Vikings defense all offseason. It’s something they were not able to do very much last season and a big reason for that is because head coach Mike Zimmer does not want his players taking risks that will end up hurting the team, like trying to jump a route in order to get an interception, but then being fooled by a double move and getting beat deep.
Instead, Zimmer believes that turnovers will come naturally in his system, but the players need to be ready to make a play when the opportunity presents itself. Harris seems to think along the same lines as his head coach.
“First of all, I want to make sure I get in the right position, got my eyes in the right place and then when plays come I’m trying to focus on finishing the play,” he explained. “Just competing for the ball. I’m trying to go and get an interception, not just be satisfied with a pass breakup.”
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Zimmer has said that Harris is probably the safest choice out of the safeties competing for the starting spot, but for some reason he has gotten almost no chances to work with the first team. The head coach shed some light on the situation during training camp, saying that Harris may not be as athletic as a lot of the players on the field, so he can’t afford to make any mistakes because he probably won’t be able to recover as well as the other contenders for the starting spot.
Harris is trying to prove to his coach that he does not need to worry about that and the perfect place to do that is in the preseason. Those games are likely how the starter next to Smith will be determined and Harris should be in the mix for that spot if he continues to play his game.null