Maurice Harris is about to become the Washington Redskins’ hot receiver after replicating the one-handed grab that once made Terrelle Pryor a preseason legend. The difference is Harris isn’t going anywhere.
Harris’ highlight-reel, 36-yard touchdown against Minnesota confirms what coaches and teammates have long said about the second-year receiver – he’s a playmaker. Indeed, Harris made another astonishing catch in practice on Wednesday over cornerback Josh Norman.
“He’s always been a great competitor in practice,” coach Jay Gruden said. “In training camp, he was making plays. It just went unnoticed by a lot of people, but not by us. He’s a great all-around football player – very quarterback-friendly. He’s where he’s supposed to be. He just doesn’t get there quite as fast as a lot of guys, but he’s got great change of direction. He knows how to set up the DB. He knows how to read zone/man. He can play everywhere. And he’s a great blocker, so he’s another great weapon for us to throw in the mix.”
Just like coaches preached patience on developing receiver Ryan Grant, they’ve equally talked of the coming storm of Harris since promoting the rookie last year. He caught eight passes in 10 games, then was sent to the practice squad again this season before being promoted against Minnesota.
Harris now gains a major role while Pryor has disappeared without even one throw his way against Minnesota. Given Pryor is on a one-year deal, it seems the Redskins are more interested in developing Harris. Indeed, Harris has better ball-tracking skills than Pryor.
“I think QB-friendly receivers are guys who make a quarterback more accurate by the way they track the football in the air,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “They attack the football with their hands. When they’re covered, they can still come down with the ball in a way that the stat line shows that it was as if he was wide open. . . . Those are skills that have to be developed and take time, and some guys have it a little more naturally than others, and I think Maurice and Jamison [Crowder] do have a unique trait there in the way they can be QB-friendly.”
So don’t be surprised if Harris is suddenly Cousins’ go-to receiver against New Orleans on Sunday. It’s time for someone new to energize the unit.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.