Maurice Harris Ready to Contribute
Redskins rookie receiver Maurice Harris passed two milestones this past weekend. On one hand, the 6-3 former University of California Bear turned 24 Friday, then on the other hand, he caught his first NFL pass (three to be exact) on Sunday. Those are pretty big steps for an undrafted rookie, even if your cousin is San Diego Chargers star WR Keenan Allen.
Harris is taking everything in stride, although he admits to being nervous. “I was a little nervous,” Harris said after Sunday’s 26-20 win. “I’m a little nervous before every game, but once you get a couple plays in and kind of get the flow going, it just kind of rolls from there.”
Harris was added to the active roster on October 21 after turning coaches heads in practice for weeks. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has been impressed with Harris for some time now. “Maurice has done an excellent job, and really he has picked up the system effortlessly,” said Gruden. “He’s a very intelligent football player. He’s a physical football player in the running game. What really drew us to him was we kept him because of his size and his effort during the preseason – then the first couple games of the regular season, scout team, he was killing our defense. He was doing a great job running routes full speed. He was taking every rep, and we decided to promote him because of his effort. We gave him an opportunity to play and he didn’t disappoint.”
The Redskins have been looking for a number one receiver above six-foot for some time now. It’s why the team drafted Josh Doctson in the first round of this years draft. With both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson in contract years, the receiver position could be in flux for the Redskins after this season, which could bode well for Harris.
While Harris is far from being a finished product, he does have very like-able traits that Gruden has noticed. “I like the fact that we can move him around. He’s a physical guy. He can play in the running game. He can block safeties, he can block defensive linemen, he can do whatever we ask him to do and he’s smart. And then from a route standpoint, he’s very sure-handed and physical and that’s what we like about him. That’s what drew us to him and he’s not disappointed us in any way, shape or form,” said Gruden. “His role may or may not expand, we don’t know yet dependent on the health of DeSean [Jackson]. Obviously [Jamison] Crowder can move around and play a lot of different spots but he’s a great luxury to have as far as being your fourth or fifth guy. He’s doing more on special teams. So I think the future is bright for Mo and when he does get his touches I think he’ll continue to take advantage of them because he’s a sure-handed, physical, big receiver that quarterbacks like.”
While things may be up in the air at the moment as far as what Harris may bring to the team in the future, he’s ready to do whatever is asked of him in the present. “Whatever they ask, I’m gonna do it to the best of my abilities,” Harris said. “Whatever I can do to help.”