Denver Broncos | News

Harris Jr. and Talib ready to be tested in season opener

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Chris Harris Jr. eagerly anticipates the possibility—or in his mind, the probability—that Ravens QB Joe Flacco tests him once again.

The first time he did was in a 2012 Week 15 matchup that the Broncos won 34-17. Flacco had the Ravens knocking at the door with the ball at the Broncos' 4-yard line, but Harris jumped his throw on a short route to the left, picking the pass off. He returned it 98 yards for the score, falling into the end zone as Flacco failed to make the touchdown-saving tackle. Flacco had targeted Harris' coverage six times with only two completions, according to Pro Football Focus.

Quarterback and wide receiver drills lead off our practice gallery as the Broncos continue preparation for Sunday's season opener against the Ravens.

The second time was in the divisional-round playoff game 27 days later, and though Harris had a similar level of success—allowing only two completions on six attempts in his coverage and deflecting two passes—the Broncos would fall in a memorable playoff matchup.

On Sept. 5, 2013, Harris faced Flacco for the third time and got his second interception against him. He also denied Flacco on five of eight pass attempts, including a second-quarter interception that became a touchdown on the ensuing offensive play.

"It's going to be a great challenge going against Flacco," Harris said on Wednesday. "He's a guy who's always tried to throw at me so I'll definitely be ready for him."

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Throwing at Harris hasn't resulted in much success for Flacco in the past; his quarterback ratings against Harris' coverage in their previous three meetings were 9.0, 18.8 and 45.1, per PFF. However, one cannot count on the results of the past dictating the future.

"I'm pretty sure he's probably like 'Man, I've got to get 25 now,'" Harris visualized. "I'm pretty sure, in the back of his head, he's going to definitely try to come get me, try to get me back and I've just got to make him pay."

Flacco won't have an easy opponent on the other side of the field with Aqib Talib, either.

Talib's history against Flacco isn't to Harris' level, but he's had his share of success. In 2010, Flacco completed six of nine passes during a matchup against Tampa Bay but was intercepted by Talib, who held Flacco to a 43.1 passer rating in his coverage. Talib and Flacco next matched up in the 2012 AFC Championship, but that was cut short when Talib was injured in the first quarter and could not return. Most recently, Talib played Flacco and the Ravens in Week 16 of 2013. Flacco completed four of eight passes in Talib's direction for 52 yards.

With Flacco coming off arguably his best passing season of his career to date and facing a tough competitor in Steve Smith Sr., the defense won't be able to count on the past for any comfort, though.

The man opposite Smith, however, is not likely to be the first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who has not practiced since July 30. The players who will take up a bigger role will be third-year wide receivers Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh would not venture an estimate on Perriman's timetable beyond saying "We expect him to play when he practices."

Regardless of the players they'll guard on the opposite side, the Broncos' two Pro Bowl cornerbacks will be ready.

"We're pretty confident," Talib said. "We know our stuff; we had a game plan down by Friday, Saturday. We're a pretty confident bunch."

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