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Tribal Warfare 05-31-2014 01:10 AM

Paylor: Demetrius Harris trying to catch on with Chiefs at tight end
 
Ex-basketball player Demetrius Harris trying to catch on with Chiefs at tight end
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star

At one point in his life, as recently as 14 months ago, basketball came first for Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris.

For Harris, a 6-foot-7 power forward who averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a senior in 2012-2013 for Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the sport was clearly his first love, even after the Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent last spring.

Now, even one year later, Harris still admits he still hasn't quite eradicated basketball from his system. When he's not learning the finer points of being an NFL tight end, he even likes to hop over to a basketball court behind a church near his town home and get a few shots up.

“Every once in a while, just to shoot around,” Harris said,” I still have love for the game.”

But all it takes is a glimpse of him during the Chiefs ' practices to see that these days, football may slowly be winning out — with a huge assist to hoops.

“It helps a lot,” Harris said of his basketball background. “It's the reason for my ability to come in and out of the cuts, and in basketball, you've got to stay down and then go up the highest point you can (when rebounding).”

Though Harris dropped a few passes the first few days of rookie camp last week, he's since caught his coaches' eyes during the first three practices of organized training activities with a handful of impressive catches, including several over the middle in which he's reached high to pluck the ball out of the air over much-shorter defensive backs.

“I always used to catch (alley) oops,” Harris said. “So I love those high balls.”

He very clearly is relishing the opportunity to show it after spending all of last season on the practice squad. Any football player knows that playing on the scout team is no fun, but Harris understood that he needed time to develop, both mentally and physically, since he hadn't played football since his senior year at Jacksonville (Ark.) High School, where he caught 47 passes for 738 yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver his senior season and was all state.

“I was just waiting my turn and picking the veterans' brains, from (Anthony) Fasano) to (Sean) McGrath and even (Travis) Kelce,” Harris said. “They were helping me with the little details. Those guys are great because they always give me tips every time I need one. I lean on them.”

But while Harris admits his quest to master Andy Reid's intricate West Coast playbook is an ongoing battle — “it's reading the defense, knowing how to set up faster, just thinking quicker,” he said — it appears he's already made a significant transformation physically.

“I was at 225 (pounds) when I first got here, now I'm at 257,” Harris said. “It's big, because all offseason I was here working out with Barry (Rubin), our strength coach, and he's been getting me right with my upper body strength and keeping my speed up at this weight. It's been good — I feel a lot stronger.”

That's good, because Harris admitted he realized he certainly had a ways to go in that area when he first arrived in Kansas City.

“Whatever it took — my biggest downfall was my strength,” Harris said. “Basketball, we hardly lifted weights … we lifted, but it wasn't that heavy because we had games every two days.”

Now Harris, who could barely bench-press 225 pounds once when he began with the Chiefs, said he’s repping that regularly.

Reid said he can see the physical transformation.

“Oh absolutely,” Reid said. “First of all, he did a great job in the weight room. He and Barry became one there. They joined hips there and started working that son-of-a-gun to where he felt strong, and so far he’s been able to transfer that on the field, which is a good thing.”

The key for Harris, he said, will be making sure he continues to perform when the pads come on for training camp. So far, he's been starring in non-padded practices in helmets and shorts.

“It’s not live,” Reid said. “So we have to see that part of it as we go.”

But there's little doubt in Harris’ mind that he's closer to being able to do that than ever, thanks to his bright future and a budding love for the game.

“Yeah, I'm a football guy now,” Harris said. “Strictly football.”

milkman 05-31-2014 07:10 AM

We really need his guy to step up, because Kelce isn't likely to be healthy, and Fasano and McGrath are scrubs.

Just another sad example of pinning our hopes on a prayer.

Mike in SW-MO 05-31-2014 07:25 AM

My question is whether he can block. He needs at least some ability in that area if he wants to be a successful TE.

TRR 05-31-2014 07:49 AM

He'll be lucky to make the team. Although I would say goodbye to Fasano before I said goodbye to McGrath. McGrath does everything Fasano can do at a cheaper price, and is 4 years younger.
Posted via Mobile Device

theelusiveeightrop 05-31-2014 08:21 AM

Kelce may never see the field. We need this guy to step up big time.

-King- 05-31-2014 08:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TRR (Post 10661945)
He'll be lucky to make the team. Although I would say goodbye to Fasano before I said goodbye to McGrath. McGrath does everything Fasano can do at a cheaper price, and is 4 years younger.
Posted via Mobile Device

He can't block.
Posted via Mobile Device

OldSchool 05-31-2014 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike in SW-MO (Post 10661941)
My question is whether he can block. He needs at least some ability in that area if he wants to be a successful TE.

I don't care if he can't block if he can line up in the slot and be something close to what Jimmy Graham is as a receiver. The TE position has changed a lot, blocking is now second to receiving in a lot of systems.

jd1020 05-31-2014 09:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OldSchool (Post 10662009)
I don't care if he can't block if he can line up in the slot and be something close to what Jimmy Graham is as a receiver. The TE position has changed a lot, blocking is now second to receiving in a lot of systems.

Thank god the bar is set so low.

Harris, all you have to do is get close to a guy that puts up WR numbers.

Dunerdr 05-31-2014 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jd1020 (Post 10662011)
Thank god the bar is set so low.

Harris, all you have to do is get close to a guy that puts up WR numbers.

Aj Jenkins bar is jerry rice what's the problem.

milkman 05-31-2014 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TRR (Post 10661945)
He'll be lucky to make the team. Although I would say goodbye to Fasano before I said goodbye to McGrath. McGrath does everything Fasano can do at a cheaper price, and is 4 years younger.
Posted via Mobile Device

Almost anyone with any desire to work can be taught to adequately block.

Athletic ability can not be learned.

OldSchool 05-31-2014 09:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jd1020 (Post 10662011)
Thank god the bar is set so low.

Harris, all you have to do is get close to a guy that puts up WR numbers.

He has the physical ability to do it, now it's time to see if he has the fearlessness to fight through contact and make contested catches over the middle; also need to see what his football instincts are like in a real game, it'll probably take him at least another year before he gets a decent feel for how to get open consistently. I want to see if he can maintain his focus through the process of the catch when he knows that he can be lit up at any minute; Alex Smith is one of the QBs in this league who does a good job of preventing his receivers from getting lit up, so that might not be too much of a problem.

OldSchool 05-31-2014 09:13 AM

Is it bad that I've got more hope in Demetrius Harris than I do in Travis Kelce right now?

RealSNR 05-31-2014 09:47 AM

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/lDK9QqIzhwk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

mcaj22 05-31-2014 09:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jd1020 (Post 10662011)
Thank god the bar is set so low.

Harris, all you have to do is get close to a guy that puts up WR numbers.

lol seriously

"all you have to do is be Jimmy Graham and save our season"

thabear04 05-31-2014 10:12 AM

Hope he like a Julius Thomas he broke out last year.


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