Cor­ner­ing the mar­ket:

Chris Har­ris has ver­sa­til­ity to hunt down re­ceivers across the field.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Cameron Wolfe Cameron Wolfe: 303-954-1891, cwolfe@den­ver­post.com or @CameronWolfe

It’s hard to com­pare the Bron­cos’ Chris Har­ris to other NFL cor­ner­backs, be­cause he isn’t quite like any of them. Or bet­ter yet, they aren’t like him.

Make your list of the NFL’s shut­down cor­ner­backs and the Carolina Pan­thers’ Josh Nor­man, the Seat­tle Sea­hawks’ Richard Sher­man, the Ari­zona Car­di­nals’ Pa­trick Peter­son and the New York Jets’ Dar­relle Re­vis all are sure to get recog­ni­tion. But none of those play­ers dis­plays the de­fen­sive ver­sa­til­ity Har­ris does.

Har­ris starts on the out­side but of­ten moves in­side when the de­fense goes with five de­fen­sive backs.

Har­ris isn’t lim­ited to the left or right side, out­side or in­side. Wher­ever a re­ceiver lines up, Har­ris will play him man-to-man.

“He’s got some real good hips, man,” cor­ner­back Aqib Talib said. “And when you have real good hips like that, you can stay square in your ‘off ’ cov­er­age and your ‘press’ cov­er­age. That’s what makes Chris dif­fer­ent from other cor­ners.”

Bron­cos de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Wade Phillips calls more man-to-man cov­er­age than any­one else in the league. The play­ers take pride in it.

Phillips has the con­fi­dence in Har­ris and Talib to dare op­pos­ing of­fenses to beat them. For the most part, they don’t.

Har­ris was the best slot cor­ner­back in foot­ball sta­tis­ti­cally this year, yield­ing 0.44 yards per cov­er­age snap, ac­cord­ing to Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus.

“I’m kind of like the quar­ter­back,” Har­ris said, “be­ing able to or­ches­trate a lot of things out there on the field and be­ing able to run dif­fer­ent schemes and cov­er­ages.”

The most re­cent Bron­cos player with the ver­sa­til­ity of Har­ris was 12time Pro Bowl cor­ner­back Champ Bai­ley.

Har­ris was un­drafted af­ter star­ring at Kansas and earned his way onto the Bron­cos’ ros­ter in 2011.

Talib cred­its Har­ris for his hips. Har­ris points to his tech­nique. Re­ceivers never seem to get much sep­a­ra­tion, and if they do, Har­ris has the speed to get back and break up a play.

“That’s just Chris. That’s just how God put him to­gether,” Talib said. “You can ei­ther move like that or you can’t move like that, and Chris can move like that. That’s his strength.”

Har­ris has been the Bron­cos’ most de­pend­able de­fen­sive player. He has played 1,063 snaps, or 97 per­cent of the de­fen­sive plays, most on the team and fifth among NFL cor­ner­backs.

Now, he has a deep left shoul­der bruise that left his arm dead for the last three quar­ters against San Diego on Jan. 3. Har­ris said he’ll be ready to go Sun­day when the Bron­cos play the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers at Sports Au­thor­ity Field at Mile High. No way he’d miss this game.

“We’ve matched up Chris on a lot of great play­ers this year,” Bron­cos coach Gary Ku­biak said. “We put him in some tough po­si­tions.”

The rough­est spot for Har­ris this sea­son was three weeks ago when he had ar­guably the worst game of his ca­reer against Pitts­burgh. Steel­ers re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown torched Har­ris for 12 catches, 137 yards and two touch­downs on 13 balls thrown his way. To be fair, Brown does it to al­most ev­ery cor­ner­back he faces.

Har­ris said af­ter the game that he let a ques­tion­able pass-in­ter­fer­ence call get in his head, and he owned his role in the loss.

“Wade puts all of the re­spon­si­bil­ity on us to make a lot of plays,” said Har­ris, who was a se­cond-team all-pro and a Pro Bowl se­lec­tion for the se­cond con­sec­u­tive sea­son. “If I don’t play well, we usu­ally lose.”

Har­ris hadn’t al­lowed a touch­down in more than two years be­fore Brown beat him. Har­ris has that bad game on his mind. He be­lieves it kept him from be­ing se­lected first-team all-pro.

Sun­day Har­ris gets his chance for re­demp­tion.

“You know what hap­pened last time, so it’s just an­other chance to go prove your­self,” safety Dar­ian Ste­wart said. “You all-pro? You go han­dle your busi­ness.”

Foot­note: The Bron­cos on Tues­day signed tight end Manasseh Garner, punter Will John­son and of­fen­sive tackle Dar­rion Weems to fu­ture con­tracts. Fu­ture con­tract play­ers will be added to the ros­ter March 9.

Cincin­nati Ben­gals tight end Tyler Kroft gets wrapped up by Bron­cos cor­ner­back Chris Har­ris dur­ing their game in Den­ver in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Eric Lutzens, The Den­ver Post

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