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Notebook: Harris Continues Growth

Posted Oct 27, 2011

Rookie cornerback Chris Harris continues his development; Receiver Demaryius Thomas builds confidence; The Broncos offense seeks to cut down on sacks.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Chris Harris stood out in overtime Sunday, making two critical pass breakups to stymie the Dolphins.
 
Harris, an undrafted rookie, has been playing primarily on special teams, but the coaches had no hesitation throwing him into Sunday's game in crunch time.
 
"Every day you come out here and see him make a play on the show team," Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen said. "He's done a great job, and that's what happens when you do a great job. You find ways to get yourself on the field, and he got himself on the field last week and made a couple plays."
 
Head Coach John Fox was equally impressed with Harris' ability to make plays in training camp and during practice thus far this season.
 
"He's proved that to us over time as far as his competitive nature on the field and his work ethic to get better every day, and he has," Fox said. "He's starting to reap some of those benefits."
 
Even though he went undrafted, Harris didn't let that stand in his way, as he continued to work hard and improve. The coaching staff noticed.
 
"In this profession you're not prejudiced," Fox said. "You're not where you're drafted, how much money you make. You just notice guys that make plays, and he's done that."

THOMAS GAINS CONFIDENCE

Receiver Demaryius Thomas played in his first game of the season Sunday, registering three catches for 27 yards and a key touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
 
Thomas had been sidelined with various injuries, but was able to play the entire game against the Dolphins. He said that he gained more confidence in himself as the game went along.
 
"I felt like at the end of the game, it really helped me just to go hard and play and not think," Thomas said.
 
Even though it was his first game back, Thomas was targeted a team-high 10 times by Tim Tebow Sunday, six more than any other Broncos receiver. The second-year receiver said his chemistry is developing with the second-year quarterback.

Thomas said the touchdown catch -- where he dove full extension and caught the ball -- let him know he could push his body.
 
"The ball just stuck there," Thomas said. "After that play, everything just came, and I just stopped thinking and started playing."
 
AVOIDING THE PRESSURE
 
Detroit's aggressive defensive line has been well-documented by the national media this year. The Lions' pass rush ranks as one of the best in the NFL, tying for eighth in the league with 17 sacks on the season.
 
Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy knows his unit needs to cut down on the six sacks it gave up last week against Miami. He said some of the sacks were due to the team not picking up a blitzer, while others were due to the maturation and inexperience of the Broncos' young quarterback.
 
"It was a combination of everything. It's not just one thing," McCoy said. "I think sometimes when Tim is back there, he might hold the ball a little longer, but he'll be fine. Tim is going to get better every week. He's going to learn to get rid of the football a little quicker in certain situations. He's going to scramble out of things also, so there are some other ways to look at it."
 
Tebow's scrambling ability helped him escape other situations Sunday where it looked like he might be dropped in the backfield. However, he recognizes that he needs to improve in his decision-making.
 
"It is me making better decisions, getting the ball out of my hands, maybe throwing some of them away," Tebow said Wednesday.
 
McCoy recognizes the elusive trait Tebow has, but thinks Tebow can improve by tailoring his play to specific situations presented in the game.
 
"It's like when you're scrambling an open field, when you try to run a guy over versus when you slide," McCoy said. "What's the situation of the game? Are you in field goal range? 'Ok, now I'm going to throw the ball away and not try to make that play.' If you're in the middle of the field and trying to sustain a drive, that's when he might take a chance of scrambling, doing something different."
 
McCoy knows it's a challenge of finding the right balance.
 
"It's play specific of exactly where you are, but you can never take the competitive drive out of a player," McCoy said. "You start doing that and you're going to hurt him."

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