ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Chris Harris Jr. is in his third season as an NFL cornerback, and most of that time he has been covering slot receivers.
Conversely, Champ Bailey has been a cornerback in this league for 15 seasons – spending most of that time covering receivers on the outside. But recently, the two have traded places and the veteran Bailey has been looking to Harris for a little advice.
"You know, it's funny because I find myself asking him little things about coverages, mostly," Bailey said. "Just what is he looking at, this and that. He's had so much time in there and he's been so good at it, I'd be a fool not to look at him and ask him a few things."
Harris Jr. agreed that it was an interesting twist, but one that makes sense given the two cornerbacks' personal experience.
"That is kind of funny now that I think about it, but it's a new position," Harris Jr. said. "He's always been outside. I've always been playing it in (Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio's) system, so I know it the best out of anybody. That's the reason why he comes to me."
While the two positions are similar, both Harris Jr. and Bailey noted the same differences. The slot corner has to be prepared for a wider variety of routes and has to be able to communicate with the linebackers and the safeties.
On the outside, Harris Jr. said, a cornerback is more on his own and gets a little help from the sideline.
The difference is enough to require a slightly different approach and Harris Jr. has been a helpful resource for Bailey.
"When you play in the slot you have to look at the whole formation and that kind of tells you what routes are coming, and there are some things I try to tell him about it," Harris Jr. said. "When you're outside at corner you can just cover your man and kind of understand what routes you're getting, but in the slot you want to be familiar with the whole landscape of the formation."
The switch for the two cornerbacks, though effective against the Texans, may not necessarily be a permanent one.
"Right now it's what we do," Bailey said. "That's what we're going to do right now. Moving forward we'll do what's best for our team that week. The good thing is it creates some versatility across the board because now I can go in, Chris can go back in there at any moment. It just depends on matchups and things like that. If we want to switch it up we could."