Training camp is a time when lesser known players can often come out of nowhere to make a noticeable impact on a team. In the past, for the Raiders there has been a few over the past few years — Denarius Moore, TJ Carrie, and Seth Roberts to name a few.
This summer, it’s safety Erik Harris who could be the next lesser known player to find himself a consistent role. And not just a role that involves a heavy dose of special teams and some sub-packages but possibly one that involves starting.
“Well after we met him in Alameda, he introduced himself quite well,” Jon Gruden said. “He had an outstanding offseason. I mean he made a lot of plays in the box, deep, covering, special teams. Right now he has a chance to be a full-time starter for the Oakland Raiders. That’s what I think of him. Now he hurt his finger. He left practice early today, but he’s doing an excellent job. He has some really good communication skills. He’s playing really good football for us right now.”
This isn’t the first time Gruden has given praise to Harris, but it sure seems to be the highest praise yet.
For those who might not realize, Harris was with the Raiders last season and appeared in 15 games tallying five tackles. But no one could have predicted that Gruden would have mentioned starter in the same sentence as Harris especially considering where he was just a few years ago.
Great teams always need unexpected contributions as they must pay their top players (cough cough Khalil Mack) resulting in less money to go around. If Harris is truly a solid player, then in a way there is now more money to go to the stars like Mack.
This defense needs all the unexpected help they can get. Oakland’s secondary over the years has always been taken advantage of and often injured. DJ Hayden, Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu and David Amerson in recent memory could never stay healthy.
As such, the Raiders have always had to play the next man up in the secondary. If Harris is a capable starter playing in a back-up role down the line, the team shouldn’t miss a step if someone notable at safety must miss some time.
Every good player Oakland can find in the secondary can’t be taken for granted. So Harris’s impressive camp performance should be exciting for Raider Nation.