HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – With Monday’s news that Texans cornerback Brice McCain had surgery on his fractured foot and was placed on the designated-to-return-IR list, the AFC’s top team turns to 2nd year pro Brandon Harris to fill the void.
After the McCain injury against the Titans, Harris received the first real extended playing time of his career in the secondary, and I thought fared pretty well. According to Pro Football Focus, Harris was targeted 7 times and gave up 4 receptions for 78 yards. The yardage is high, but keep in mind that a bust in coverage on one play allowed Nate Washington to pick up 49 of those yards.
A lot of the talk Monday was about the penalties Harris racked up. In total, he was called for 3 in the game (2 on defense, with an illegal contact and a pass interference). To me, that’s part of the growing pains of a young cornerback. We can’t realistically expect Harris to come in cold and shut down decent NFL receivers.
You could see that Harris played a bit too aggressively in spots, but one thing that stood out to me was his tackling. Harris made 5 tackles on the day. In stark contrast to the disaster against the Jaguars, the Texans were actually able to get receivers on the ground after catches.
Now, Harris is the starter at nickel corner the rest of the way, and that’s a tall order in an NFL full of 3 and 4 receiver sets.
“Harris has been chomping at the bit. He’s been close to getting on the field for a while and has just been kind of the odd man out,” Gary Kubiak said. “Now it’s time. You go from playing zero to playing 59 [Sunday] so it tells you what’s fixing to happen with this young career of his. We’re excited for his opportunity.”
That chance continues next Monday against the Patriots. Harris will see his share of Wes Welker, one of the elite slot WRs the NFL has. The former Miami star was highly regarded enough to be drafted in the 2nd round in 2011, and many Texans fans have been disappointed in how often he’s been listed as inactive. Harris has his big opportunity, and we’ll see how effectively he can replace McCain.