Denver Broncos | News

Teammates React to Loss of Harris Jr.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The news of the day at Dove Valley was the loss of cornerback Chris Harris Jr. for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.

Below is a rundown of Harris Jr.'s teammates and head coach's take on the loss of the key defensive contributor.


On the injury to cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
"Doesn't change much. Obviously, it hurts that he's gone and he's out for the season. I feel bad because he worked so hard during the season and preseason to get to this point, a step closer to where we want to be, and he goes down. If you look at our season, we had [cornerback] Tony Carter in there making plays, we had [cornerback] Kayvon [Webster] in there making plays, 'Jam' [cornerback Quentin Jammer] in there making plays. I don't see it changing too much. Obviously, it hurts, like I said, that he's down. But we've got to keep going because we still have goals."

On how the injury will affect cornerback Champ Bailey's role
"Well, I'll leave that to the coaches. I don't know how that is going to affect him – whether he is going to move outside or inside. I don't know. I would love to see Champ back out there every play, if you're asking me that. Yes, I would love to see that. But that is yet to be determined. Actually, I've got to ask them that question."

On whether there was an immediate effect on the game when Harris Jr. went out
"Yeah, it was. And it was obvious. When Chris went down, things started to unravel a little bit on the back end. Jam – I'm not worried about him. He gave up a big play, but he could bounce back. He's been in the league a long time. We've all had bad games before and we've all slipped up and done something to give up something before. He always bounces back. So I'm not worried about that. It's just little things, little technique things that he can fix. He hadn't been getting reps all week – and to step into that role is huge. Jam, I'm not worried about at all."

On whether the secondary has been able to jell as much as they would have liked
"These last couple of games – can't you tell? We've been holding opponents down. We've been playing very well as a defense. It's something we want to continue. You look back at the Dallas game, when it was like an offensive game – 'Bombs over Baghdad' – the game going back-and-forth. And then we finally started to buckle down. And I must say, we've bucked down at the right time – playoff time. And that is when you want to peak. We all knew we were going to the playoffs. We knew we were going to the playoffs. We were, what, 10-2? Whatever the record was. We knew we were going to the playoffs and we knew we had to peak at the right time – and I think that is what we're doing now."

On whether he has any concerns about Webster's lack of experience
"Oh, no. Did you see him in the Dallas game stripping [Cowboys wide receiver Dez] Bryant? He played. I'm confident if Tony Carter goes out there, if Kayvon Webster goes out there, Jam goes out there – any one of those three guys step into this role, this new role, which I don't know yet who it is, I'm confident. I'm good. And I don't think we're going to play two-man over them to help them out more. I don't think we're going to do things to adjust so we won't get exposed there. I think we've got some good players. And I've said this before, like in training camp – it was so hard in training camp because we had so many guys competing. And coaches made it hard. And we made it hard for the coaches to make decisions about who to cut and who to keep. I guess they made some bright decisions because the guys that go down, then you've got people stepping into these roles and we don't miss a beat."

On safety Rahim Moore being eligible to return
"He's always a help. The more help we can have, the better. We've got guys going down. If he can come back and he can play – and step into a role – I'm all for it. Obviously, that would be huge, as well."


On Chris Harris Jr.'s torn ACL
"It is another disappointment for us – somebody else that we've been battling with that has been a huge part of this team and this defense that is down. It's an opportunity for somebody to step up and play big."

On the team's depth
"Everybody on this team is a professional athlete. Just because you aren't necessarily the starter doesn't mean that you feel any less about your abilities or you prepare any differently. Guys that were backing up, they still prepared like they were going to start games basically. You have to. Because this is a violent sport. And at any moment, that guy that is the starter can go down and then it is truly the next man up. So, you can't just sit back and assume that 'He's going to be out there the whole game, I can just hang out.' No, no. You have to prepare like you're going to be out there."

On the way the defense was built by the personnel department
"I think it's been put together with guys that can play ball – that can play ball collectively and feed off of each other. That is exactly what you want to be. You want to be a unit defensively. You don't want to have a couple guys make plays. You want to have the entire unit playing well."


On Chris Harris Jr.'s injury
"It's terrible news. You hate to see a guy having a great year, going into a contract year or something like that – I wish him the best. I wish him a speedy recovery but we just have to focus on the task at hand right now and that's New England. Whoever will fill his shoes, whoever we put in there has to step up."

On the defense surviving all the lineup changes
"I don't think this whole we have had a consistent starting lineup. That's just the onus of the guys in the room. We embrace every role we have on the team and whoever is in there we expect to make plays. It really doesn't matter, whoever is in there we expect to make plays. With the goal that we have in mind to win the Super Bowl, we can't have any setbacks."

On building chemistry
"I think with mixing and matching all year and (Defensive Coordinator) Jack (Del Rio) putting in different lineups during camp and preseason, it kind of helped us. We don't lose any chemistry when guys are replaced because guys are always playing. We've had so many combinations in there that it is almost to the point that you are comfortable with everybody."


On Harris Jr.'s injury
"There's no doubt that he's probably one of our better performers on defense throughout this season. It'll be the same – we've lost some pretty good performers throughout the season. This team has been resilient. We'll take a 'next-man up' approach and we'll keep you posted on that as we go forward."

On Jammer moving outside after Harris' injury
"Just how we had them evaluated this week and how we decided to utilize them in the game against the Chargers. It varies week to week, but that was what we elected to do against San Diego."

On plans to replace Harris Jr.
"Well, we're going to know long before you guys will know. But, we have been with these guys for some time. We've had the same corps of guys. So, we've been through the whole cast, really throughout the whole season. It is really how they perform in practice and what we see on the practice field in preparation for New England."

On determining who will replace Harris Jr.
"That's why we practice. We'll get a chance to form up – they were in today, watched the game from yesterday and they got started on New England. They have tomorrow off, albeit, a lot of them do come in and start viewing the upcoming opponent. We'll form back up Wednesday and see where everybody is at that point."

On his plans plans to replace Chris Harris Jr.
"Like I said, it's a long list, a long cast. If I knew right now, I wouldn't say anyways."

On Champ Bailey being on a pitch count"You know it's not really quite that scientific. We're not that smart. We're just, like I said, form back up Wednesday and see what everybody's health, physically is and we'll go practice."

On whether Harris' injury would prompt Rahim Moore's return"I'm not going to get into speculation right now. We're working through the procedure to make personnel adjustments and we'll keep you posted."


On the defense and their lineup changes
"They've been through a lot. Whether it's [LB] Von [Miller], Vick [DT Kevin Vickerson], Chris Harris, Champ at the beginning of the season. We've talked about sticking together and having depth and I thought the guys that needed to step up, stepped up. There were times, both offense and defense, when we haven't played our best football but its complementary football. When the offense is playing great we pick it up for the defense. When the defense is playing great, they pick it up for us. The challenge for them this week is to make sure that they all play sound football and someone has to step up and play for Chris Harris. He's played his tail off all season. He's a guy that we're going to miss but we have to move on and we have to find someone to fill that hole."

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