ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Even though cornerback Chris Harris ranked fifth in the NFL for the fewest receiving yards allowed last year and was the only cornerback to record multiple sacks and interceptions in 2012, he still has feels like he has something to prove.
Being undrafted out of Kansas University left Harris with a chip on his shoulder.
"That's who Chris Harris is," Harris said during OTAs. "That's who I am. I can't change who I am. I've always been a hungry player, always been a guy that always fights for the team. Once that chip is off, that's not Chris Harris out there."
After playing in all 16 games – recording four starts – in his rookie season, Harris' role increased in 2012. He started 12 games, recorded 61 tackles, 2.5 sacks and picked off three passes.
He took two of his three interceptions to the house, including a franchise record 98-yard touchdown return against Baltimore in Week 15.
It's his competitiveness that earned him that increased role and keeping him there.
"The guy just competes at a very high level," Secondary Coach Cory Undlin said during minicamp. "It doesn't matter what position you play him. Heck, you could probably play him at linebacker. Size-wise, he's not big enough, but he'd probably make it work somehow. He's just a competitive guy who wants to win. It's why he's been on the field ever since he's been here.
"He's an undrafted kid who loves the game and is very, very smart. He understands routes and understands how the game works, so I think that allows him to play the game at a higher level and he'll be effective."
This offseason, Harris has been challenged by one of the new additions to the offensive unit. In OTAs and minicamp, Harris often found himself lined up across from fellow undrafted, Oklahoma-native Wes Welker. Those battles, as one might expect from two players like Harris and Welker, have been competitive.
"We definitely have great battles each day and we've made each other way better," Harris said in May. "I feel like, at this time compared to last year, I'm light years better than I was. I know he's gotten a lot better, too. I'm excited to be able to cheer him on and not have to play against him."
Welker agreed and pointed to Harris' awareness as one of his strengths.
"He's very strong," Welker said during OTAs. "He uses his help very, very well. He understands it. He knows when to take chances, when not to. He's done a really good job this whole camp and I think we've definitely made each other a lot better out on the field."
Not only is he matched up against Welker, he's working against quarterback Peyton Manning.
Whether it's in a game or in practice, picking off passing never gets old for Harris. Harris is making himself better by treating those passes from Manning in practice just like he would on game day.
"You can never get tired of getting interceptions," Harris said during OTAs. "I have to prove myself every day. I'm undrafted, I have a slim opportunity and I have to take advantage of my opportunity every day.
"That's just how I approach every day that I have to get better and if Peyton is going to throw that ball out there, I have to make a play on it."