With rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. still struggling with his second concussion of the season, per Daniel Popper of The Athletic, Harris will provide secondary and special teams depth for the playoff-hopeful Chargers, who currently sit in the AFC’s seventh postseason spot as the third wildcard.
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The Chargers snagged Harris from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad, where he’s spent the entire 2021 regular season since being waived by the Ravens in August. Harris was activated for the 49er’s Week 11 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 21, playing 10 snaps, all on special teams.
He suffered a knee injury in Jacksonville, but his MRI came back negative, according to NBC Sports’ Jennifer Lee Chan, so he’ll be healthy enough to play right away in Los Angeles. While Harris profiles mainly as a special teams contributor for the Chargers, his 546 snaps and 27 games played over the last two seasons indicates that he could be called upon to play cornerback in a pinch.
Special Teams Disruptor
The Chargers will be Harris’s fifth team in his four seasons in the NFL after getting drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Illinois State University.
While he only appeared in three regular-season games as a rookie, he flashed some of his special teams potential during the 2019 preseason, forcing a fumble on punt coverage against the Indianapolis Colts.
Harris emerged as a consistent defensive starter for the Denver Broncos in 2019, where he played under current Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill. Staley was the outside linebackers coach, while Hill directly supervised Harris as the Broncos’ defensive backs coach. But Harris was shifted back to a special teams role in 2020 before he was ultimately released.
He signed with the Ravens during their COVID-19 outbreak in November 2020, making several key plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, earning the eternal gratitude of Ravens fans everywhere, as well as an exceptional 89.9 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. He played a major role in Baltimore’s next two games before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the 2020 season.
After an influx of talent at cornerback during the offseason, Harris was waived by the Ravens in August, quickly landing in San Francisco. But he’s still beloved in Baltimore for his contributions against the Steelers, to the point that he received congratulations for his signing in Los Angeles from a Ravens fan on Twitter.
Why Isn’t Harris in Baltimore?
With several of the Ravens’ defensive backs struggling with injuries, especially in recent weeks, it’s somewhat surprising that Harris didn’t return to Baltimore since he was available to be signed off the 49ers’ practice squad.
The Ravens have always valued quality special teams play, and Harris’s recent tenure in Baltimore means that he is already familiar with their defensive scheme. Especially after placing veteran Kevon Seymour on the COVID-19 Reserve list on November 29, Harris would have made sense as a depth signing who can play special teams and rotate in on defense.
Instead, the Ravens will hope that Jimmy Smith and Chris Westry will be ready for their Week 13 trip to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers after missing last week’s nail-biter against the Cleveland Browns.