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Five Things To Know About Redskins Defensive Backs Coach Chris Harris

Chicago Bears defensive back Chris Harris (46) rests during an NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in Chicago. The Bears won the game, 30-12. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)
Chicago Bears defensive back Chris Harris (46) rests during an NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in Chicago. The Bears won the game, 30-12. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)

The Washington Redskins announced Chris Harris as their new defensive backs coach last week.

Harris, 37, is a former NFL safety who has been coaching since 2013. He spent the past four seasons as the assistant defensive backs coach for the Los Angeles Chargers. Below are five things to know about the man leading the secondary in Washington.

1. His childhood dream was to play in the MLB.

Harris has either played or coached in the NFL since 2005. Yet growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, he actually dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player.

"I didn't grow up wanting to be a football player," Harris told Jake Perper of ChicagoNow in 2010. "I was a huge baseball player."

It wasn't until college that his dreams truly began to change. Harris was a four-year starting safety at Louisiana-Monroe, and all of the sudden playing in the NFL was within reach. His life has revolved around football ever since.

2. He played eight seasons in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears drafted Harris in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he went on to play eight seasons with four different franchises. In 101 career games (88 starts), the 6-foot safety recorded 14 forced fumbles, 16 interceptions, 37 pass break-ups and 439 total tackles.

Harris' career highlights include setting a Panthers franchise record with eight forced fumbles in 2007 and earning second-team All-Pro honors with the Bears in 2010.

He also appeared in Super Bowl XLI during his first stint with the Bears in 2006. He secured his only postseason interception off Peyton Manning that day, but the Indianapolis Colts still beat the Bears, 29-17.

3. He coached a star-studded secondary with the Chargers.

Harris spent the past four seasons as the Chargers' assistant defensive backs coach, and in that time he worked closely with several Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.

In his first year there, the Chargers not only led the NFL with 18 interceptions, but cornerback Casey Hayward also led the league with seven picks en route to making his first Pro Bowl. The team recorded 18 interceptions again the next season, which was fourth-most in the NFL, and Hayward made his second straight Pro Bowl appearance.

In 2018, Harris coached a pair of first-team All-Pros in Desmond King II and Derwin James. King, a fifth-round pick in 2017, recorded three interceptions and a pick-six, while James -- a first-round pick in 2018 -- became the first rookie in Chargers franchise history to record 100 or more tackles.

The Redskins have not had a first-team All-Pro defensive back since Darrell Green in 1991, though safety Landon Collins earned the distinction as a member of the New York Giants in 2016. Harris will have the luxury of working with Collins as well as Quinton Dunbar, who was the No. 2-rated cornerback during the 2019 campaign according to Pro Football Focus.

4. He's one of a few staff additions without coaching ties to Ron Rivera.

Of the position coaches who were not holdovers from the previous staff, only Harris, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio came to Washington without coaching ties to Rivera.

Harris and Rivera do have a connection, however. Rivera was the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator during Harris' first two seasons in the NFL in 2005 and 2006. Harris started 20 games during that stretch, helping the Bears to a combined regular season record of 24-8, two playoff berths and an appearance in Super Bowl XLI.

5. In his first season as a defensive backs coach, he'll have plenty of help.

In addition to Harris, Rivera hired Richard Rodgers and Brent Vieselmeyer to work with the secondary.

Rodgers spent the past eight seasons with the Panthers, so he has a solid sense of how Rivera likes to operate. He'll serve as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Redskins.

Vieselmeyer comes from the high school coaching ranks, but he did lead the linebackers and safeties with the Oakland Raiders under Del Rio from 2015-17. He'll also be an assistant defensive backs coach in Washington with a focus on nickelbacks.

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