Miami Dolphins: Rookie DE Charles Harris still ‘developing’ and ‘learning’

Charles Harris is discovering the NFL game isn’t so easy. (AP photo)

PHILADELPHIA — Charles Harris flashed so often in organized team activities, it was easy to see why the Dolphins tapped him with a first-round pick.

Harris showed a quick first step, blazing speed and a relentlessness that quickly endeared him to teammates.

But the first two games of Miami’s preseason, and many training camp practices have shown, that it’s going to take some time for Harris to develop into the player the Dolphins believe he’ll be.

In two preseason games, Harris has one tackle and no sacks.

Coach Adam Gase noted this week that Harris must avoid frustration.

“I think it’s one of those situations when we get in the preseason, and we’re actually in games, he’s creating a lot of pressure,” Gase said. “You just can’t get frustrated because you don’t have sacks. We’ve been talking about it as you can’t focus so much on sacks. We’ve got to think about pass disruption. Are we getting hurries? Are we getting hits? Are we getting sacks?”

Harris has been put in a position to succeed.

He’s learning from veteran defensive ends Cam Wake and Andre Branch, two highly-paid and feared pass-rushers.

And he may not even be leaned upon as much as under-the-radar free-agent addition William Hayes, an all-around defensive end with the ability to be dominant as a run-stopper.

The Dolphins didn’t draft Harris to be a run-stopper. But because he’s 6-feet-3 and only 250 pounds, and because the NFL is a step up in caliber (even from the SEC) it will take time to learn how to develop into a competent run-stopper, especially in likely run situations.

“There are some things that are going to be a little bit of a learning curve,” Gase said. “You see some of the run games that you see at this level, it’s different. You start seeing traps and whams and guys are starting to pop runs up the middle and you’re not really involved in the play, and then all of sudden you get the power run schemes. It’s going to take time. We’re going to have to keep developing him. We’re going to have to keep learning.”

Gase noted that while Harris saw tons of zone-read in college, he didn’t see as many two-back offenses. Harris has to adapt to playing against much more experienced, larger and stronger athletes.

A parallel could be drawn between Harris and cornerback Xavien Howard, who struggled with some of the looks he saw as a rookie last season and who is now dominating camp as a sophomore.

After Miami’s first preseason game, Harris acknowledged he was “really hesitant” and “didn’t want to mess up.”

There is a balance between playing instinctively and just attacking the quarterback and knowing all job responsibilities and being in the right place when needed.

“It’s going to take time,” Harris said.

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