Tight end Clay Harbor's prowess as a pass catcher was evident during his career at Missouri State. A three-time All-America, the fourth-round pick had a school-record 150 receptions for 1,906 yards and 10 touchdowns.
While Harbor doesn't have a catch in two preseason games, he showed enough to take the lead in the battle for the backup tight end job. And with Cornelius Ingram out due to knee swelling for this Friday's third preseason game in Kansas City, Harbor can show far he's come in the area that coaches have worked with him the most - his blocking.
"I've improved a lot blocking-wise. Coach (Tom) Melvin and Coach (Marty) Mornhinweg have said that I need to improve my technique a lot," Harbor said. "Sometimes my hands will get outside and I will overextend. I've been working on that. I'm pretty good at coming out and striking people. I just have to latch on and make sure I keep good footwork and base and keep driving him. My blocking's come along a lot since the start of camp."
As the only one of the team's league-high 13 draft picks not to play at a Division-I school, Harbor said that the blocking aspect of the game is the biggest transition from the college game.
"In college, you could have some bad footwork, be lazy with your technique and if you're a better athlete than the other guy you'll block him. In the NFL, you can't do that," Harbor said. "You have huge defensive ends who are athletic, very athletic. Just to give yourself a chance to win you have to have perfect technique and come as hard as you can. The blocking has been the biggest change from small college to now. It's coming along, but it's a lot harder.
"There are a lot of different things that a tight end has to do. Being a second tight end, there's a great responsibility there because we have such a great tight end in Brent (Celek). You need a second tight end to pick up the other things."
And Harbor will look to prove that he can continue to pick up those other things on Friday night.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 8:00 a.m., August 26