ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Whether you believe the win/loss results of preseason have practical value or not, the value of the process of playing and preparing for September is essential.
But that's not something cornerback Chris Harris Jr. will experience this year -- at least on game days. Although he has practiced since July 31, his work has increased in increments: from just individual work to adding some seven-on-seven periods to working with the entire team.
Until he proves his surgically repaired knee can withstand the entire practice, he won't be cleared to play in a game. But that moment appears close -- "real close," as he noted.
"I see myself doing the whole practice next week," Harris said. "I can do the whole practice now. So I just have to follow the progression that they have me on and just stay to it.
"They've got a goal for me to be ready for the Colts (on Sept. 7), and as long as I stick to the plan, I should be ready."
And that would be without a single repetition in a preseason game -- not even a few snaps in next week's game at Dallas just to get acclimated.
"No, I don't need my feet wet," Harris said. "Just think about it like college: there's no preseason in college, you just line up and play.
"We've got a long season, 16 games, and I'm pretty sure we're going to be in the playoffs, so these couple of games early will be some good work to get my feet back."
That Harris is at the brink of a full return is remarkable given that he tore his anterior cruciate ligament seven months and nine days ago. He has been running for months; whether working out with a team trainer or actively participating, he has been a staple on the fields during practices dating back to May, when organized team activities took place.
Each increase in work whets his appetite further.
"Yeah, it's definitely hard every day. Especially with me, I'm a competitor, so coaches, they have to tell me I can't go, and they try to hide my helmet from me.
"I just want to play, man. I'm ready to play, I feel good. I just need to continue to progress on (head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos') level. I did three periods last week, now I did for. So it's just a progression I'm working toward. I'm feeling good and looking good."
And, the Broncos hope, playing well by Sept. 7.