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Mile High Morning: Chris Harris Jr. reflects on how 'No-Fly Zone,' Peyton Manning made each other better


The Lead

The Broncos are in the midst of OTAs with the regular season still months away, and former All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris Jr. recently detailed just how important practice is to build a standard.

In an appearance with Kay Adams on the "Up & Adams Show," Harris explained that competition in practice helped push the 2015 Broncos to a Super Bowl 50 win.

That began, of course, with the fierce competition between the members of the "No-Fly Zone." Harris, Aqib Talib, Darian Stewart, T.J. Ward and Bradley Roby all made key plays during the Broncos' run to a championship, and their ability to perform in key moments could be traced back to the practice field.

"It was always [about] competition, and I think that's what drove the 'No-Fly Zone,'" Harris said. "That's what made us who we were. Having a competition with Roby, Talib, T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart — we were always competing every practice, every day. … Who's going to come out today with the most picks in practice? We did that all year.

"I think that just gave us that competition edge. When it got to the hard times in games, we were like, 'That's nothing. Somebody's going to make a play. We can count on it.' We always had that competition, and that's what made us better."

That competition extended to the other side of the ball, as Harris and Co. faced off for years against Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

"He was amazing at practice," Harris said of Manning. "If we're playing in a rain game, he's out there he's dipping his hand in water, the ball in water. He's getting ready for all the effects on the field, the elements. Peyton was just super prepared all the time. He got me better at coming out of my breaks. When you play defensive back, you've to be able to be coming out of your breaks at the top of the route. Say if it's a comeback [route], you've got to be able to come back fast with that route. The thing about Peyton was the ball would already be out of his hands before the guy even makes his break, and then bam, hits him in the chest. I've never seen a quarterback that was so perfect on timing. The receivers had to be exactly where he wanted them to be. If they were there, the ball was going to hit them in the chest. He threw the most catchable football."

Harris said Manning would test the "No-Fly Zone" — and that the "No-Fly Zone" would offer a challenge right back in return.

"He got us ready," Harris said. "It was always back and forth. That's what made us better."

*Below the Fold

Cornerback Pat Surtain II hosted a fashion show on Monday to raise funds for his foundation, and he spoke with local reporters about where the Broncos stand heading into 2024.

"I think [Head Coach] Sean [Payton]'s just got the utmost confidence and belief in us as a team," Surtain said. "Obviously, it's a new team this year. A lot of new faces coming in the building, but I think he's set the [mindset] that the standard never changes. He wants to keep that standard the same standard. The main focus is just getting to that next step, which is playoffs and even bigger."

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