Macho Harris is back where he once belonged.
Harris, last year's opening day starter at free safety, has been moved back to safety following an off-season in which he spent most of his time at cornerback. Harris' versatility in the defensive backfield allows defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and the rest of the coaching staff to move Harris around wherever he's most needed. After a rookie year during which he started eight games at free safety, Harris was moved to cornerback, his collegiate position, in the spring.
Harris continued working at cornerback, mainly on the right side of the defense, once training camp began. However, a hamstring injury kept Harris out of practice for some time, allowing some of the other cornerbacks to state their respective cases for spots on the roster. Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs are entrenched as the starters and Joselio Hanson is well-established in his role as the team's nickel cornerback. Dimitri Patterson, meanwhile, has been widely praised for his work this preseason, which includes an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals, and rookie fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley has taken to the speed and physicality of the NFL game so well that he was worked in with the first-team defense last Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, Lindley's emergence is perhaps the biggest impetus for Harris' switch back to safety, considering both players were working mainly on the right side.
"A little bit of (the reason for moving Harris to safety), I think, was that I felt comfortable with Lindley, who did a nice job," said head coach Andy Reid. "I think Macho is a good safety, that's where he started for us last year, he can also help you out in nickel situations inside."
As for Harris, he's happy to do what's asked of him.
"Wherever I can help out the team, wherever they need me, I'm willing to play it," Harris said. "I'm a team guy. I love this game of football. Whatever position they need me, I'm willing to play.
"It's an opportunity. It's an opportunity to basically prove myself, go out there and show that I can help the team."
Reid and McDermott both noted how impressed they were with Harris' ability to seamlessly step back into his safety spot, and Harris called the move a "smooth transition," but the numbers at safety appear just as crowded as those at cornerback. Quintin Mikell and Nate Allen will start and Quintin Demps and Kurt Coleman have each looked to be solid backups. Keeping five safeties, and 10 defensive backs, is certainly not out of the question, especially if the talent is so high. However, Harris still feels he has something to prove Thursday night against the New York Jets.
"It's important for everybody," said Harris, who missed the first two preseason games with that hamstring injury and only played about a quarter last Friday. "Trying to make the team, it's important for a lot of guys on the team, including myself. I'll try to make the best out of it.
"I can't wait, I'm excited. I played a little bit last game, got to fly around a little bit. Now I really get a chance to really get around and fly around."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:30 p.m., August 31