ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Chris Harris Jr. is not on the trading block. He is not a holdout.
He is a Broncos’ cornerback again.
There were a couple days before the NFL draft in late-April when Harris was available for trade. Did he think he would be traded?
“I thought I would,’’ he said Wednesday after signing his new one-year, $12.05 million contract in the morning and finishing up his first organized team activity (OTA) practice with the Broncos in the early afternoon. “I thought I was going to get traded at one time in the offseason, and it didn’t happen. God works for a reason and I’m back. I’m ready to roll.’’
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio limited Harris to two reps a series as he tries to ease his four-time Pro Bowl cornerback back from his eight-week holdout and into football shape. Harris took all his reps at left corner. He did play more left corner than right last year as he alternated sides with Bradley Roby. Prior to that, Harris was primarily a right or slot corner.
“It’s something I adjusted to last year,’’ Harris said. “Shoot, that’s where the action is, so I’m ready for it.”
Harris will play more zone coverage in Fangio’s defense than ever in his last four or five seasons with the Broncos.
“He told me he’ll learn fast, but I have to see it, not hear it,” Fangio said.
It was somewhat surprising the Broncos gave Harris a pay raise without getting additional player control through a multiyear extension. Does this mean this is Harris’ last year with the Broncos? Probably but Harris didn’t rule re-signing with the Broncos as he hits free agency in March.
“I don’t know. Like I said, I’m taking it day by day,’’ Harris said. “I’ve always said I wanted to retire here, and that’s always been my mentality here. So, if I have to go show them 16 games that I have to retire here, I’m going to do it.”
Joe Flacco has been the Broncos’ best quarterback in OTAs and it’s not even close. But veteran quarterback Kevin Hogan is ahead of more heralded Drew Lock and Brett Rypien, who are making typical rookie mistakes in May.
“He looks much improved from what I remember,’’ Fangio said of Hogan. “I think he’s done well. I think he’s an improved quarterback from my last look at him which was a couple of years ago.”
Hogan concurs with his head coach’s assessment that he has improved from a couple years ago.
“Oh definitely,’’ Hogan said in an interview with 9News. “I am trying to take it to the next level both mechanically, mentally. I’m taking the coaching very critically and harshly and I want to apply it each day. Whether it’s something with my feet or something with how the ball’s coming out, where my reads are, I’m trying to apply it and I feel like I have gotten better and I feel way more comfortable than I did my first few years in the league.’’
Leary returns as James rests
For the first time since tearing his Achilles in game 6 last season, guard Ron Leary practiced with the first team offense Wednesday.
He split reps at right guard with veteran Don Barclay. Leary returned as right tackle Ja’Wuan James sat out most of the practice. Fangio said James tweaked his hip while working out over the Memorial Day weekend. Elijah Wilkinson replaced James with the first-team offense.
Running back Phillip Lindsay (wrist), tight end Jake Butt (knee) and cornerback Isaac Yiadom (shoulder) continue to practice on a limited basis but are kept out of 11-on-11 team drills. …
Several Broncos veterans, including Joe Flacco and Emmanuel Sanders, visited with Colorado Rockies players in their clubhouse pre-game Wednesday at Coors Field.