Another day, another Maurice Harris highlight.
That seemed to be the motto at training camp this year, affirmed most recently on a 20-yard slant route where Harris juked Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson out of his cleats. Last week, he displayed his raw speed in the open field, catching a 50-yard pass against Montae Nicholson in coverage, jumping over defenders and high-pointing throws in between.
In 15 days of camp, there hasn’t been a single day (including his preseason debut against the New England Patriots, in which he caught three passes for 22 yards and a touchdown) where Harris hasn’t made a spectacular grab that catches the attention of the coaching staff.
If you ask anybody that plays alongside him, Harris’ progression throughout camp has been no secret. Starting receiver Paul Richardson Jr. was asked about who he was looking forward to watching during the preseason game against the Patriots, and Harris was the first player that came to mind.
“I’m kind of biased, because you know I’m in the receiver room” Richardson said. “I think he’s going to get some real good opportunities.”
Harris is indeed a ball magnet, seeing as he led the team in targets in Foxborough. The matchup didn’t end in favor of the Redskins, but Harris still put his stamp on the game, making a series of important sideline grabs.
When asked about the one-handed catch artist in last week’s presser, head coach Jay Gruden made it a point to compliment him heavily, an indication of the consistency that the receiver continues to display.
“The thing about Mo is he can play any position, and he’s very quarterback friendly” Gruden said. “He’s got strong hands and he’s probably, he could be our best route runner on our team. He’s strong enough to get away from press coverage and quarterbacks love him.”
The Washington Redskins conducted their final day of training camp practice Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
Having the trust of both the coaches and your fellow players feels good for any player in contention for a roster spot. At this point of training camp, Harris recognizes that he has that in Gruden. However, when asked about what it meant to have his head coach speak so highly of him, the undrafted receiver neglected to take the celebratory route.
“It’s a good thing standing out, but, I just like to come out every day and play my hardest,” Harris said. “If I do that, then I know I’ve done my job. I just want to be on all my assignments, have no mental errors, and most importantly, play with effort on every single play.”
With such a serious demeanor, it doesn’t take much for Harris to embrace the underdog mentality within. However, that mentality has diminished substantially, and Harris has put himself in strong contention to make the roster – especially with Robert Davis going down with a broken leg and LCL injury on Saturday. The dynamic of the wide receiver room is continuing to shift as September approaches, and a magnifier has been put on Harris as his role on the team continues to expand.
Tuesday, when asked about Harris’ value to the team, Gruden alluded to the fact that it extended beyond just catching the football.
“Mo [Maurice Harris] has been here, so he’s one of our smartest players” he said. “He’s so valuable to us because he’s a great blocker. You saw him in the game against New England [Patriots]. He fit up on safeties. He does some great things, obviously, as a receiver for us and we have confidence he can line up anywhere.”
Whether it’s under the lights or an afternoon practice, Harris maintains the same approach.
“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” Harris said. “So I’m going to continue to work, continue to help out our team.”