Mike Harris, a cornerback from Florida State University and the Jaguars' sixth-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, played in 27 games in two seasons at FSU with 99 tackles and five interceptions. He worked throughout the 2012 offseason as a reserve corner, and when the Jaguars open training camp on July 27, he is expected to compete for playing time in a nickel back role. Harris (5-feet-10, 188 pounds) recently sat down with jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser to discuss his approach in the 2012 off-season and his thoughts approaching his first NFL training camp:
You just finished your first NFL offseason. There's obviously a lot still to learn, but what were your overall impressions?
I enjoyed being here. I definitely didn't know what to expect, being a rookie coming in. I was just trying to grasp the playbook and learn the different techniques from the coaches. I definitely feel like I'm well on my way getting adjusted and acclimated to the team and the city of Jacksonville.
The day-to-day intensity of the NFL is a different thing than high school or college, even in the offseason. Talk about your adjustment to that.
I think it's good. You pretty much know what to expect each day. You can get a routine together and fix your schedule around that. It's something you do day in and day out.
Were you able to put aside that feeling of, 'Hey, this is the NFL?' Or is that a real thing for a while?
I would probably say I got past that around the second day or so – just doing the same schedule. The speed of the game definitely picks up. Everything is so precise and it happens faster, so you have to get past it.
The rookies were at EverBank for about two weeks after the veterans finished the off-season. But as of late June, rookies and veterans are off until training camp opens in late July. What do you do with that time? How do you prepare for camp?
You run. You lift. You stay in the playbook and do the things that you have to do to stay well-prepared. You take care of your body and eat the right things. You just stay in condition.
Do you expect training camp to be a shock to the system? Or is it just the next step up?
I've heard it definitely will be tough. I'm definitely going to try to work as hard as I can to be as well-prepared as I can be.
The veterans on this team are a professional group. Out of the veterans, who have you sort of gravitated towards, and who has helped you?
Rashean Mathis, I've spoken to him on and off out there on the field. If he sees something that he can comment on and help you out, he'll do it. Also, Ashton Youboty has been helpful the same way Rashean is. They weren't practicing (during the offseason), but if they see something they'll say a word or two to help the transition be a little easier.
Anything stick out that they've told you?
They've just told me, 'Don't try to be too fast; just let it sort of come to you and it will definitely come to you if you're talented.'
That takes a while to figure out, doesn't it – that you're here for a reason, so you don't have to try to do too much?
It definitely helps you when you figure that out. When you try to do too much, you end up not doing your job the way you're supposed to. You can't do your job and someone else's job. When you do that, you look bad. You can't overplay things, because it definitely will make you look bad.
When you come in as a sixth-round draft choice, the perception is the odds are against you. But from your standpoint, the round in which you're drafted means little . . .
I definitely feel I was better than a sixth-round pick, and at the end of the day that doesn't matter because we're all here now. I just have to come to work every day and show my talents every single day. I know I can play at this level.
Did you get that from organized team activities and the minicamp? Can you see enough in those to feel, 'Hey, I belong?' It's a good feeling for a player when he gets out there and realizes, 'OK, this isn't overwhelming . . .'
It's a process where you get comfortable, then you feel like you can play at this level. There are small, technical things you have to work on and then it's being consistent every day. Being the best player you can be every day – that's what's important. I just try to improve each and every day, all around – in nickel and dime, and also on special teams. I want to be the best I can be in every aspect of the game.
You worked a lot in the nickel in the offseason. Is it your understanding that that will be your role entering training camp?
When I look at the playbook, or when we're doing installs, nickel is definitely the first thing that comes to my mind. That's what I've been doing the most in OTAs, so I definitely put a lot more focus on that.
The talk around the draft was that you were a good fit for that, and that what you did at FSU would prepare you well for the role . . .
I'm definitely familiar with what they're asking me to do. I felt as though they brought me in to do specific things and I'm very comfortable doing the things they're asking me to do. It can be tough if you're asked to do something totally different, but I do feel very comfortable. I've got no aches. No pains. I'm definitely ready to go.