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Chris Harris Jr. embraces dual role, zone coverage

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Two weeks of offseason work for the last week of OTAs and mandatory minicamp were enough for Chris Harris Jr. to learn that he likes Head Coach Vic Fangio's defensive scheme.

"I think I fit it perfectly. You go into the slot -- a lot of that stuff in the slot, I've already done in my career and he's going to be able to use me a lot more in there," Harris said. "I like it so far."

The aspect he likes most is the implementation of zone coverages, which were rarely used in the Broncos' man-to-man-intensive schemes of the last four seasons.

"I think [it] is going to definitely help me out -- just not having a hard down every time, you know what I mean? I feel like in the past, I've had a hard down almost every play of the game," Harris said. "[It helps in] being able to help me play with vision a lot, be able to see the quarterback, break on the ball."

But while Fangio knows that Harris' versatility can make him a unique weapon, he also tempers that by saying that Harris remains "a little bit behind" because of the time he missed in April and May.

Harris has cross-trained at the cornerback and nickel spots before in different schemes. That began in 2012, when he moved up from the No. 3 cornerback to the No. 2 role, assuming the starting duties he has maintained ever since.

"[We will] decide whether he's more of a corner or a nickel for us. He's going to have to dive in and really learn the ins and outs of what we're doing," Fangio said.

Learning multiple spots is part of the deal for the Broncos' defensive backs. Free-agent acquisition Kareem Jackson see snaps at the nickel spot and at safety, continuing his work from training camp. Fellow newcomer Bryce Callahan, who played the nickel position for Fangio in Chicago last year, will also train at cornerback and nickel.

"We've got three good players that have played nickel at a high level in this league," Fangio said. "That's highly unusual."

But the responsibilities are different for the nickel compared with the cornerback, leaving Harris with much on his plate.

"The nickel position is totally different than the corner position. There's no carryover," Fangio said. "So he's got a lot of work to do in these next five, six weeks."

Harris believes it will not be a problem.

"I think it's just [Fangio] getting to know me, the type of person I am. Him knowing that I'm all football. This is all I do," Harris said. "I've been studying this playbook all summer. I feel like I'm pretty caught up."

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