NFL corner back Walt Harris came to the Ravens facility a month ago, and was sold from that point on. Just seeing how well the Ravens organization as a whole treated their own, Harris knew that he had to be a part of this.
“It must have been,” Harris told Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Friday on if “The Castle” was the big selling point for signing with the Ravens.” The place is great and outstanding. It’s top notch. It makes you feel comfortable where you are.”
“I’ve never seen a facility like that. It’s great and it says a lot about an organization…to be able to make sure the players are comfortable so their working environment is a place where they can exceed as well.”
And the fact that the team he would be joining wasn’t too bad either was a good selling point as well for Harris. And in order for the team to sign him, he had to prove himself to the coaching staff and he felt like he achieved that.
“When I came to work out, they saw what they needed to see, and from there, they wanted me there.”
With injuries to two starting corner backs from last year in Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington, Harris, in his 15th NFL season, was brought into the mix this year to bring some stability to the back end of the Ravens’ D until the starters return.
Harris’ workout must have also been impressive for the Ravens to take a chance on him, given he missed the entire 2009 season with an ACL tear.
Harris’ confidence level is at the highest point in his long NFL career, mostly because he feels like he is on the best team on paper that he has ever suited up for.
“I’m feeling good with high expectations looking forward to being on the field.”
But he loves the fact that there are not only high expectations for this Ravens team, but that those expectations are for a Super Bowl run. He feels like that kind of excitement makes everyone on the team a lot better.
“I love being in the environment like that when the whole team expects that,” Harris said. “It makes sure everybody steps up their game and makes sure everyone is on point.”
Harris felt like he was a good fit for the Ravens based on what their needs were, and he feels like this is the perfect opportunity for the 36-year old corner out of Mississippi State, who may not have that much time left as an NFL player.
“I’ve been close a couple times in my career,” Harris said about the chances he’s had at the playoffs and a Super Bowl title. “When you get there at an early age, you don’t really understand the magnitude of being there and the opportunity that you have. At this stage in my career, I’m looking at putting myself in a position with a team like the Ravens to be able to be there and play for a Super Bowl. That’s a goal everyone has. I’m at that stage where I’m excited and I think I’m putting myself in the best situation possible in order to do that.”
Harris actually has a couple small tie-ins with the Ravens. Harris was actually selected 13 picks before Ray Lewis in the 1996 NFL Draft, and on his last team in San Francisco, he played for former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan when Nolan was the head coach of the 49ers.
While some people criticized Nolan in his time in San Francisco, Harris said Nolan did nothing but help Harris progress and improve as a defensive back in the NFL.
“I really liked playing for Mike Nolan. To me, his reputation spoke for himself on defense. He was definitely a smart coach. On the defensive side, he wanted to make sure to put you in the right position to be successful. Looking back, a lot of people don’t understand what he has done, and what he was trying to do. I got it, took a hold of it, and understood it.”
Harris took what Nolan taught him in 2006 as Harris went to his first ever Pro Bowl, and had a career year, registering 60 tackles and 8 INTs.
All this occurred in Harris’ 11th year in professional football.
Harris said that he has lasted this long in the league based on the same philosophy that Ray Lewis has practiced for the last 15 years: playing this game with smarts.
“I’ll tell you. In order to play this game at the level you want to play at, there is definitely a skill level that you have to have on the physical side of it. But when you really want to take your game to another level, you have to be able to play this game with some level of smarts.”
And that is what Harris is working on right now as we are two weeks away from training camp. Harris was a late signee at the end of the team’s OTAs and mini-camps, and really did not get a true handle on the defense as of yet.But he knows what he can bring to the Ravens defense and how best Greg Mattison can use him as a tool for getting the Ravens to the playoffs this year.
“I haven’t gotten to that depth of conversation yet. I’m just with the team. When I came in, it was a matter of seeing the defense and becoming familiar with it. What I bring to is an aggressive style of defense, a style that I love. But it’s a smart style of defense at the same time.”
“I’m excited. When I get there, I trust that the coaches are going to put me in the right position to where I can help the defense and be that much better.”