DAVIE — Charles Harris keeps hearing it from coaches and teammates, and, frankly, he’s finding it more and more annoying.
“Irritiating,” Harris says. “People keep saying, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming.’ People keep saying, ‘You ain’t supposed to have it right now.’ It’s like, yes, you are.”
Harris is a rookie but because he was a first-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins, many fans have higher expectations than the one sack Harris has produced through 14 games. While Harris knows it took time for even mentors Jason Taylor and Cam Wake to figure out the best way to get those NFL quarterbacks on the ground, he has higher expectations for himself.
“I’m sure in due time it is going to come into fruition,” Harris says.
Which brings us to Sunday. Miami plays at Kansas City (1 p.m., CBS) and, technically, Miami is still alive in the AFC playoff chase. But for Harris, Christmas Eve day is also a glorious opportunity to show how there’s no time like the present.
“Just give everybody a show,” Harris says, referring to the 15 family and friends he expects at Arrowhead Stadium.
See, Harris grew up on 31st street in Kansas City, an urban area about seven miles from the Chiefs’ home stadium. Harris’ high school, Lincoln Prep, is about the same distance away, and it’s where he held his NFL Draft party.
What would a visitor to Lincoln Prep find?
“You would find a lot of kids, a lot of people running around,” Harris says with a smile. “Probably a few posters of me.”
Ask Harris about what part of Kansas City represents who he is, and he goes in an unexpected direction.
“I would say the best place you can hang out at is the community centers,” Harris said. “That’s where I spent a lot of my time at growing up. Or at least tried to. Just really it’s not really like Cali people or Texas people or Miami people. I feel like the people of Missouri mesh well with everybody.”
As he was maturing as a youngster, Harris spent some time boxing at a YMCA on 31st Street, and also hung around the Southeast Community Center on East 63rd Street. When not at home with his family, this was a smart decision, as there was some criminal activity near where he lived.
Harris wanted to be an NBA player and didn’t even play football until his junior year of high school.
So, no, he was not a childhood fan of the Chiefs.
“Never watched a Chiefs game,” Harris says. “Never cared about them. In elementary there was a little poster of Tony Gonzalez. I didn’t really care about it. For me, it was Kobe Bryant.”
One reason for optimism about Harris is he has always been a somewhat overlooked, underrated, late bloomer. Harris was a zero- or two-star recruit (depends on the scouting service) headed to Missouri Western, before a late offer from Missouri.
There was a steep learning curve after Harris arrived at Mizzou, and whether Harris wants to hear about it or not, there is a steep learning curve in the transition to an NFL defense, too.
“I think with Charles, we’ve tried to take sort of a long-term approach,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke says. “I thought he actually played fairly well last game. He played with a lot of energy, was running around and chasing. It was a big game for him – obviously with some faster guys in terms of quarterback and running back and those sorts of things – for his athleticism to show. We’ve just been trying to have Charles progress and progress and I think he’s done that.”
Harris appeared so close to his second NFL sack that the press box announcer in Buffalo credited him with one on Tyrod Taylor last Sunday. Harris had 6 quarterback pressures, 2 quarterback hits and 2 run stops last Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus.
But somehow Taylor managed to get rid of the ball for incompletion, while in the grasp of Harris.
“I mean, it will be like that,” Harris says. “Those are just lessons learned. Scars are earned. Those are the things that eat defensive ends up, eat me up, and make us work harder next game. So I can’t wait to face him next game.”
Harris says this off-season, he wants to add 5-10 pounds of muscle.
“I want to get bigger,” says Harris, listed now at 6-feet-3, 250 pounds. “I definitely want to get bigger.”
Harris says it’s only recently that he’s begun to feel some excitement about returning home, and playing at Arrowhead for the second time. Missouri beat BYU there in November of 2015.
Miami coaches are hoping, of course, that Harris is fueled even further by emotion.
“I think sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase says. “I know when we played in Atlanta, if ‘20’ (Reshad Jones) can give more, whatever that was … We knew he was going to do something special in that game. He wanted to make sure he was felt and made some kind of play and he did.”
Jones sealed Miami’s upset at his native Atlanta with an interception.
Of course, a sack or two would be only a part of Harris’ homecoming dream.
“A win,” Harris says. “Of course, a win. And making everyone that’s a Chiefs fan mad. Making them very indecisive as to who they should cheer for. That would be a great Christmas.”