DAVIE — Charles Harris reluctantly agrees to an interview.
Harris is a first-round pick but he’s presenting himself as a low-key rookie who understands his role in a defensive line room with standout veterans like Cam Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes.
“He’s amazing… he’s the best rookie in the NFL”
Those words come from a locker diagonally across from Harris.
Those words come from Branch, who is playfully mocking the youngster as he answers a reporters’ query.
Harris has carried Branch’s pads, and the others, in organized team activities and training camp. Without as much as a frown or complaint, Harris carried two pads at a time, off the sun-splashed practice fields.
It was soon after his arrival that Harris flashed tremendous speed and burst and skilled hands and a potential as a pass-rusher that drew comparisons to Wake himself.
But it’s gone slowly, as even Harris admits.
In the first two games, Harris had two tackles, and one quarterback hit.
But in last week’s game against New Orleans in London, Harris made an impact.
Harris was the ninth-best edge rusher in the NFL last week, according to Pro Football Focus. Harris had two quarterback hurries, a hit and stop in a season-high 35 snaps.
“I though he was disruptive, high energy,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “He was flying around the field. That was what we’ve been expecting. You can throw the stats out the window. That doesn’t mean anything to me, when the quarterback feels you and he’s getting rid of the ball.”
As outlined in today’s The Tape Don’t Lie, Harris showed excellent speed in run pursuit on a tackle of Ted Ginn after he initially began to rush the passer.
Harris also showed a blur of brilliance on the first play of the fourth quarter, loading up for the left tackle and exploding as if out of a cannon. Harris swatted down the tackle’s left arm with lightning-quick hands and was past him quickly.
Harris ducked underneath the tackle and tried to tomahawk-chop Drew Brees’ right arm, but the quarterback got the ball off just in time. Harris looked very Wake-like on the play.
“I thought he was going to keep the ball a little longer, but he didn’t,” Harris said. “Just like any other game. Got to keep doing it. Got to keep staying hungry.”
Harris has been very soft-spoken since the season began. It’s almost as though some training camp and preseason struggles humbled him. There may have been a realization that this transition to the NFL won’t be easy.
He’s trying to focus on the most important messages he’s been receiving.
“Just doing what the coaches told me,” Harris said. “Doing what my big brothers (Wake, Branch and Hayes) told me. Get off the ball.”
Harris is going to need to add some weight and strength, though the same things were said about Jason Taylor, one of his mentors. Harris is going to need to improve against the run, although the same thing was once said about his mentor, too.
Speaking very quietly, in a corner of the locker room, Harris expresses confidence in his abilities. Harris compares himself to a storm, a slowly building storm which will eventually produce devastating results.
“It’s all about efficiency,” Harris said. “The slower the storm, the bigger the storm. Big storms move slow. It’s been going slow, but I know it’s going to pick up. I know it’s going to be a great result at the end of the day.”