Christian Harris continuing to improve

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Patterson/AP/Shutterstock (13679171dm) Houston Texans linebacker Christian Harris (48) looks to defend during an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Houston Chiefs Texans Football, Houston, United States – 18 Dec 2022

Christian Harris continuing to improve

On Wednesday, Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith noted the improved play of his rookie linebacker.

The season didn’t start the way Christian Harris had hoped. He started the season on Injured Reserve, missing the first five weeks. Since returning to the lineup, he has been asked to pick up the load and quickly became one of the team’s two primary linebackers. Harris is a three-down linebacker and doesn’t come off the field. In fact, Harris played every defensive snap last week against Kansas City.

Missing time early in the season, Harris was behind in learning the defense. It is the most difficult recovery for a rookie player to overcome injury and take on a major role. Smith has always believed in Harris’ talent and that all Harris really needed was playing time.

“Reps get you better. Play time, game time gets you better. Just being out there. It’s hard to just put a player out there and expect them to play at a certain level early on. But the more they play, the better they get, and I think that will be the case, not for just Christian Harris, with all of our guys. We’re kind of locked in now with who we’re playing at all the positions. Again, we think we’ll be the healthiest we’ve been going into a game, especially defensively. Hopefully, that will pay off.”

Smith hopes a healthier and improving defense will be more prepared to face Titans running back Derrick Henry this week. When the teams first met Oct. 30, Henry ran for a season-high 219 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

Smith also described Harris’ maturity and commitment as being big reasons why Harris has had such a rapid learning curve.

“This is what we’re looking for with everybody. We’re just looking for their overall play to get better. Keys, recognizing plays. Being where you’re supposed to be, zone coverage, man coverage when you blitz. Tackling, making plays in pass coverages, all of those things. Being a pro off of the field. Meetings, not ever being late. Early, staying late. It’s all of the above is what all of our football team has been doing. You get a little bit better when you continue to do things like that. Sometimes it doesn’t happen right away, and no one wants to hear ‘it takes time,’ but it does take time, especially for rookies. It’s hard for rookies to come in. Our game is bigger than that, and especially at some positions. Quarterback position, it’s hard for young guy to play. Linebacker, our linebackers have an awful lot. Linebacker and safety, where you have Jalen Pitre, and you have Christian Harris. They have improved so much throughout.”

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