Dolphins’ Charles Harris will see rotations at defensive end
By Brian Miller
When the Miami Dolphins released Ndamukong Suh at the start of the league new year, questions about the defensive line and the defensive ends began.
Across the landscape of the NFL’s mainstream media one common opinion exists, the Miami Dolphins lost their best defensive player and thus the Dolphins defensive front is going to suck.
That may not be the case. The Dolphins are planning to use a rotation along the defensive line where Vincent Taylor, Davon Godchaux, Akeem Spence, and Jordan Phillips will play. However the Dolphins will also use a rotation at defensive end and that may hinder the public view of one Charles Harris.
Last season Harris did not post the numbers that fans expected from a first round draft pick but Adam Gase, through a recent press conference, told the media that Harris did was he was asked to and that while the “negative play” of a sack would be nice there was a lot more to judge him on.
This year the media asked Gase about the trade for Robert Quinn and what that means for the development of Harris as he enters his 2nd season.
"(So by all accounts, you weren’t the least bit disappointed with DE Charles Harris last year but you went out and got a really good defensive end in DE Robert Quinn. So what do you see Harris’ role being this year?) – “We just knew how we were going to play this year, especially with adding (Defensive Line Coach) Kris Kocurek. We knew that it wouldn’t be as many plays for our defensive linemen because we’re not going to have a guy that’s going to play 75-plus snaps or 65 snaps. The way that we’re running to the football, the way that we’re going to pursue every game, it’s going to be less snaps and we’re going to have more of a rotation. I think everybody is going to get their shots. I think it’s going to be a battle to get on that third-down rush unit, which is a good thing because now all of those guys are pushing each other and it’s going to be one of those things where if you’re on that group, that means that you’re doing the right stuff and you’re working well with that group. Really, that’s what we want. We want to create that type of competition where guys are hungry to get out there on that third down.” – Adam Gase press conference transcript via MiamiDolphins.com"
Competition is always a good thing but there still has to be some concern about drafting a top defensive end in round one and him not making a big impact in year two. Harris is going to be under the proverbial microscope and now that people know he isn’t exactly expected to post big sack numbers, there is more to watch for which will either help or hinder the opinion of him.
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Setting the edge is important to establish a good run-defense. Wake has been very good at that over the last three years and his improved considerably. The Dolphins are hoping that Harris can also take that step as well and Gase talked about that too.
"(How would you measure success with DE Charles Harris? In Year 2 is it the same? Is it apply pressure or does it need to turn into sacks or more playing time?) – “A lot of times, sacks are great because it’s a negative play; but just the amount of times that you are touching the quarterback or causing him to throw the ball early. We’re doing a great job of setting the edge in the run game. Cam (Wake) is a great example to kind of watch. When you run to his side, and this is three years going against him, he’s a way better run defender than anybody gives him credit for. He does a great job of setting the edge, bringing the ball back inside and giving linebackers an opportunity to make plays. Really, that’s what you want to be, because when you’re a really good pass rusher, some guys just end up doing that and don’t really care about the running game. I feel like Charles is very aware of, ‘I want to be a good player both in the run and pass game.’”"
The reality here is that while Miami may be hoping for Harris to earn that spot in obvious running downs, Miami has one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the NFL in William Hayes. Harris simply is behind some very talented players right now and the opportunities to get on the field are going to be tough. Harris has to take advantage of every opportunity when given the time on the field and in practice.
If there is good news it’s that he is young and the veterans who he is learning from are very good. At some point Harris is going to be expected to become a starter and that may come sooner or later so digesting the schemes and growing as a players seems to be more important now than simply sack totals.
Here is the full post-practice interview with Charles Harris via the Miami Dolphins.
DE Charles Harris
(What is your goal to come out of this training camp with?) – “My goal to come out of training camp is to be the best player that I can. Just take one day at a time. I feel like last year as a rookie, you look at the whole schedule; but just take it one day at a time and come out here and work hard for it.”
(How much of a difference can it make for you the fact that now you know what to expect, this is not your first training camp anymore?) – “It makes it a whole lot different. It’s the awareness of knowing how much time you’ve got throughout the day, know how to manage your time. Being a year in, it’s like you know more about recovery, you know more about how to get your mental right, how to get your spirit right and everything like that, physically and emotionally, all of that stuff. It’s a lot better.”
(Does it feel more comfortable and a lot less like you’re scrambling trying to catch up like last year?) – “Yes, not comfortable; but like I said, every day is a challenge. I don’t know. It’s less of a burden, for real. I don’t know. It’s just free. Just playing free.”
(Is the objective to add to your pass rush moves, maybe add something else or to polish the ones you already have?) – “Just really polishing what I’ve already got. Get me two or three moves that I can do consistently and perfect them. I feel like as a young defensive end, especially myself, I can do almost everything in the book. Sometimes we have too many moves. So, we’re just simplifying it and going with my go-tos.”
(They added DE Robert Quinn in the offseason. How much does that extra veteran presence helping you?) – “It’s helping a lot. Quinn, he’s a great guy. He doesn’t speak that much, but when you ask him anything, he’s right there for you. Also, it’s a different form of pass rush. Him and Cam (Wake), they’ve got two different varieties. I’ve got a power rushers and I’ve got a finesse rusher at the same time, so it’s great. I feel like I can combine both of them and be one of the greatest.”
(At any point did you think that they’re adding this guy, DE Robert Quinn’s had a season where he’s had 19.5 sacks, this affects me a little bit?) – “What do you mean?”
(As far as playing time?) – “Affect me?”
(Yes.) – “No, it doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect me at all. It adds to the team. We’ve got one goal in mind, that’s to get to the ‘ship, so it helps everybody.”
(How was your offseason as far as changing your body? You’re working on pass rushing moves, what did you do football-wise?) – “Football, I did a lot football-wise, working out-wise, all of that kind of stuff. I feel like I just got better mentally, spiritually and things like that. Being able to take care of my family, get stuff done off the field and understanding grace and stuff like that. I’m better mentally. Mentally is going to transition everything else.”
(Anything change as far as measurables – put on weight or put on muscle, add more speed or change your diet?) – “Change in diet. But like I said, everything I did mentally helped me out physically.”
(When you say mentally, what does that mean?) – “I’m talking about understanding … Like I said, understanding grace, understanding what it actually means worship instead of just work. A lover will always outwork a worker. At first last year, I was just checking boxes every day. I came in, I punched in, I punched out. This year it’s like I love it. I love it because I understand what it means to work. This is my work and use it as my worship.”
(How did you make that step? How did you put it together? Was it you? Did Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek help or DE Cam Wake?) – “No, I just prayed on it. That’s all that happened.”
(Do you still feel like you’re getting a big opportunity here?) – “Light is always going to shine. I feel like you can’t contain nobody. You can’t keep anybody off the field. It’s the coaches that make sure everybody is out there, makes sure the best players are out there. That’s something they handle, who plays and all of that kind of stuff. Like I said, I’m going to take it every single day and work as hard as I can and we’ll see on game day.”
(You’ve been working a lot with DE Andre Branch. Branch was hurt most of the year. Does he look like he’s back? Does he look good to you?) – “He’s always good. To me, I didn’t know Branch was hurt. Branch is Branch. Everybody is 100 percent. Everybody is good.”
(When you prayed on things in the past how has that been? Did you pray on being a first-round pick or in college, how has that worked for you in the past?) – “It’s the same thing, you don’t know which seed it’s going to be that you plant. I feel like I’ve always throwing seeds, always sending prayers up. Like I said, you don’t know which ones are actually going to reach heaven or which ones are actually going to come to fruition. This offseason I just prayed a lot, prayed about my lifestyle, prayed about things off the field. Before you know it, just like Revelation, I asked God for Solomon-like wisdom and he blessed me with it. Since then, I’ve been in my word and waking up with grace every day, taking it one day at a time and responding to life better. No matter what happens, everything is good.”
(How do you grade the season you had last year?) – “I don’t know how to do that. I’m not a grader. (laughter)”
(Are you satisfied with how you played?) – “Yes, for sure. I feel like every time I go out there … I feel like the best game I look at is the Kansas City game. People don’t understand what happened before that game. Only the coaches and everybody here knows what happened before that game. Everything that happened before that game, what happened in that game and at the end of the game with me getting hurt at the end of that game, it was just a wake-up. I feel like that’s the one game I look at and I feel like I reflect back on all the time.”
(How can you take that momentum that you had last year into this season?) – “I’ve got to take it into camp. That’s what I’ve been doing here lately is just working as hard as I can during camp. I know it’s all going to pay off. Like I said, I’m sowing seeds. I’m just waiting on the harvest.”
(It’s hard for us because we get limited interaction with you; but do you seem a little bit more up-beat than you were last year? Is that accurate?) – “Yes, that’s 100 percent. I was in a dark place last year, for sure. As a rookie, I was in a dark place. Now I’m cool. Like I said, I understand grace. I understand that everything that happened the way it was, it was for the better of me and my family and everything like that. I understand that everything I do on the field and off the field affects everybody around me. I’ve got me a community down here being in Florida, being away from how, and that was a big thing. Now I have a community, I’ve got friends, I have everything I need to get to the top.”
(When you say dark place, does that mean just because you were in a new place, a new environment?) – “Yes, a new environment and adjusting to having wealth. All of that kind of stuff, not knowing how to deal with it. Now, I have an understanding. There was a lot of confusion. I felt like I was confused last year a lot; but now I understand why everything has happened the way it did and I’m blessed for it, and I understand it.”
(Is your faith the thing that removed that confusion?) – “Yes, like I said, I just sowed seeds. I just prayed about it, prayed about all of it. The thing about us is that we always want things to happen on our time. When we pray for something, we want it to happen instantly. You can’t push it. Sometimes prayers cancel out. I can pray to not be an angry person and then someone makes me mad, I can cancel that prayer right there; so I’ve got to keep praying and before you know it, like I said, I don’t know which prayer it was, all I know is I asked God for Solomon-like wisdom and before you know it, every time I read the word, I learn something new. Every time I’m in the community and people are talking about faith, I learn something new. It’s something that I’m hungry for, so I’ve been feeding spirit lately.”
(Briefly, the Kansas City week, what was going on there?) – “That’s the same thing. That was my opportunity just to give back. I feel like I was a dead seed last year, not being able to give back while I was in season. I was too busy. That’s the big thing about me, I can’t take in too much. I can’t take in too much without giving back. That was my opportunity to give back to my city, give back to my community. I just wanted to do that. That’s what I’m looking forward to this next offseason, just giving back and giving to the kids and using my platform to benefit him.”
(That was a big turning point for you?) – “Yes, the whole summer. I went to KAA, which is Kids Across America. I went out there and stayed with them. I went back to Mizzou and talked to my AIA director Nathan Buxman and all of those guys. I did a lot this offseason. I went down to Texas to a charity event, gave back to Lincoln (Lincoln College Preparatory Academy). There was a lot of stuff I did. A lot of stuff.”
(A lot of giving?) – “Yes; but it’s like me using what I’ve already been given. I’m using my talents and not burying them. I feel like last season I buried them. I kind of stayed closed off and cut a lot of friends off; but that’s not what I was meant to be. I’m supposed to give back.”