This past offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders gave their defense a makeover, one of the players that have been part of the rebuilding effort has been Erik Harris. The fourth-year safety played well in 2019 and is ready to pick up where he left off.
The Las Vegas Secondary will have plenty of depth in 2019
The Raiders added reinforcements to all levels on defense in the offseason. Specifically, they signed Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath in free agency to bolster their safety group. The newcomers will join 2019’s first-round pick, Johnathan Abram and Harris. While the Mississippi standout will start at one spot, the others will be competing for the other safety job. Nevertheless, whoever ends up losing the training camp battle will see the field.
The Silver and Black haven’t had as much talent and depth in their secondary. That’s a reflection of the job general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden has done. It has taken two seasons, but Gruden’s vision is finally noticeable after finishing the 2019 season with a 7-9 record and 4-12 the year before.
Erik Harris has been with the team the longest
Harris signed with the Raiders one year before they hired Gruden. He has steadily seen his role grown in the team grow and with it, his presence. Last season, he started 14 games and recorded 74 combined tackles and eight passes defensed. Moreover, he returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns, so it isn’t surprising to see him establish himself as a veteran voice in Las Vegas.
In his latest press conference, Harris talked about how there is something to build on from last season. Even though the Raiders’ defense as a whole was bad, there were things that can carry over from last year to this one.
“I think there’s definitely, as a unit, something to build on. Me as an individual, there’ll always be something to prove for me, but I think we did a lot of good things last year that we can really build off of. Guys coming in their second year, hopefully, they’ll produce like the did last year. We have new additions as well, we have a lot of depth right now.”
The Raiders added Damon Arnette, Amik Robertson, and Tanner Muse in the draft. If they invested so much draft capital in the secondary, it is because it needed upgrades. Harris believes the rookies have been receptive and sees them working hard. Moreover, the veteran safety believes consistency will be key if they want to show progress as a unit.
“They’re buying into the process, they’re buying into the scheme of what we’re trying to teach here. They’re sponges, they listen and there’s no ego involved with it. It’s really encouraging to see them go out and work every day. It’s just a constant reminder that you had a string of good practices together. You can just go out there one day, have a good practice or have a good play, and forget about it, is constant. It has to be some consistency.”
Regarding the cancellation of practices
“Absolutely, coming in here we knew things were going to be different. We’ve been here for a while and it is like you just kind of get involved with the new routine and you don’t really think much about it. It starts to feel kind of normal, and then, something like things pops up and kind of puts in reality that second anytime something like this can happen to a player, coach, whoever. It’s kind of a next man up mentality. Hopefully, they’ll get things situated.”
The Raiders look better on paper and it does indeed seem like there are building on a better defense. The NFL season is some weeks away, so we will find out that’s the case.
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Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders official YouTube channel