Will Harris’ role and performance vs. Cardinals a perfect symbol for Lions defense

SideLion Report

In the Detroit Lions’ top-notch defensive showing on Sunday, Will Harris became a symbol for a unit that battles every week.

The most surprising result from Week 15, and perhaps the NFL season to this point, was the Detroit Lions‘ 30-12 domination of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The Cardinals did not score a touchdown until the final five minutes, as Aaron Glenn’s defense had Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray looking less than sharp.

Despite getting some secondary pieces back, the Lions used safety Will Harris at cornerback against the Cardinals on Sunday. He played all 75 defensive snaps as an outside corner, and played well. He has seen some action as a slot corner previously this season, with some expected struggles.

On a key interception by cornerback Amani Oruwariye, Harris’ work to take away Murray’s first option was noted.

After the game, Lions quarterback Jared Goff mentioned Harris.

“You learn how hard it is to win, and then you win a game like today against arguably the best team in the league. On paper, we don’t match up with them. On paper, we don’t,” Goff told reporters, following the Lions’ 30-12 victory. “On defense, we had Will Harris playing corner. I don’t know what they did on him, but I would imagine it wasn’t much.”

Head coach Dan Campbell added to the sentiment on Harris.

“Let’s see if he can go out there and play a little bit, and let him be aggressive,” Campbell said. “It’s a credit to him, and by the way — he is like, ‘Coach, what do you need?’ AG (Aaron Glenn), AP (Aubrey Pleasant) talked to him, and he’s like, ‘Coach, I’ll do whatever you need.’ And that’s a credit to him.”

Will Harris has become a symbol of underdog Lions defense

Injuries and COVID-19 have combined to thin the Lions defense this season, seemingly every week. In terms of Harris’ showing against the Cardinals on Sunday, Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus provided some broader context.

Oruwariye called Harris “Mr. Do It All” after Sunday’s game. Harris is embracing the role.

“I’m just comfortable playing defensive back,” “… There’s obviously a couple different intricacies in playing safety, playing nickel and playing corner, but at the same time, I’m up for the task. All it is is a lot of film study and just taking off the safety hat and putting on the nickel hat, or taking off the nickel hat and putting on the corner hat.”

Harris may just be a full-time cornerback for the rest of the season now. But as the Lions try to piece together their defense, again amid changes seemingly every week, his role and his outstanding performance on Sunday stands as a perfect symbol for an underdog unit.

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