ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – **For some, being named the top cornerback in the NFL and a top-10 player in the league from the 2014 season might make for a daunting encore. Instead, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., feels stronger.
Already this offseason, Harris sees a noticeable difference in his performance in the training room and on the practice field. After battling pains and fatigue in 2014 following surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Harris is looking forward to what he can do in 2015 feeling 100 percent.
"I think overall I'm just stronger. Period," said Harris. "Legs stronger, upper body, everything. Being able to feel like I'm fully 100 percent, not really worrying about my knee after practice. I mean, during the season I would be sore as heck after games and really feel my knee. And now I can go to practice and I feel 100 percent now."
Look through the best photos of Chris Harris Jr. from his time with the Broncos.
That should be intimidating for any offense this season, considering in 2014 he was thrown at 89 times without allowing a single touchdown – all while feeling he still wasn't quite there yet. He allowed 51.7 percent of receptions, averaging only 7.7 yards allowed per catch, while notching 51 total tackles, three interceptions and 17 passes defended.
His stats from last season were good enough to be named Pro Football Focus' top cornerback and the No. 4 player last season in the entire NFL. The Pro-Bowler's prolific season following eight-months rehabbing from his ACL surgery also earned him a nomination for the George Halas Award. The George Halas Award is given to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.
"I've really had to work to get nominated for anything," said Harris. "I've always been a guy that people always overlooked and never really got the publicity for the work that I did on the field. So now it's finally happening for me, I'm definitely thankful, I'm glad people are finally seeing the work that I'm doing out there on the field and especially off the field."
Harris' strength and stamina will be needed more than ever as the Broncos defense begins to work with first-year Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and Defensive Backs Coach Joe Woods. Just two weeks into organized team activities, Harris says that Woods has brought the secondary back to basics.
"Fundamentals," said Harris. "He's pounding and pounding us on fundamentals every day in techniques everyday and he has a different way we're learning new techniques from him, from what we did with Corey [Undlin]. We're still tying to get that gel… we're trying to build that chemistry together and right now things are going pretty good."