Now, with Gaither officially out the rest of the year after being placed on IR, it’s crucial that Harris steps up and rises to the occasion.
“It’s unfortunate for Jared,” said Harris. “I feel for the man. It’s been a tough season for him battling injuries, but it’s given me an opportunity to get out there. I’m very fortunate that the coach has given me the opportunity to go out there. Now I have a different mindset knowing I’m going to be out there every week. I’ve got to grow up quick. There’s no room for rookie mistakes anymore. I know my preparation has to be there and I need to step it up.”
Thus far, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Harris has come out of nowhere to start six out of the team’s first 10 games, far more than what was expected out of a first year undrafted rookie. Now the starting left tackle for the remainder of the season, head coach Norv Turner praised Harris and said is proud of what Harris’ has stepped in and been able to accomplish. .
“I don’t know what we would have done without (Harris),” said Turner. “He’s a guy that’s improving and working as hard as he can. He’s been in some tough matchups, and he’s managed to the best of his ability.”
Harris’ teammates agreed with their head coach’s assessment, best summed up by
“Mike’s done a great job all year,” he said. “And he’s going to continue to do a great job. He continues to get better and better, so we’re excited for him.”
Now, Harris needs to go out and show that his teammates are right about him. And if this is something he can prove against a dangerous Baltimore Ravens defense, then Harris will have a lot to hang his hat on.
“I’ve had my ups and downs going up against some great players, but I take every hurt and use it as a lesson,” he said. “This week is going to be fun. It’s going to be physical, which is just the way I like it. I just need to go out there and do my job.”