Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris will enter his third year in the league looking to take the next step in his progression after a short season in 2017.
It's been several months since Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris became well-known among fans for his improbable one-handed catch against the Vikings. Harris was activated to the 53-man roster the day before that mid-November touchdown grab, celebrating a timely birthday with family and unaware his diving efforts would make end of the year highlight reels, putting him into potential one-catch wonder memory vaults.
On a recent episode of "Redskins Nation," Harris admitted that many people still approach him about that catch, which occurred in the first quarter of the game and is both a vivid and fleeting memory.
"I'm pretty sure it was my first couple of plays in the game, and Kirk [Cousins] looked over and said 'I'm probably going to throw that way' in the huddle," Harris said. "So I was like okay, I kind of got ready for that. He threw the ball, and I'd seen the ball but the defender was kind of to the side so he kind of distracted me a little bit, and I just kind of reached out, stuck my hand out there because I thought the ball was going to be a little far. It happened pretty fast, I'm not gonna lie, it was like a flash [snapping his fingers], and next thing I know I was up."
Harris only caught three more passes in 2017, finishing the season playing in six games, but he hopes his third year in the league will provide a larger quantity of opportunities so that touchdowns like the one he's remembered for can come more frequently and less surprisingly.
"This is a big year for me," Harris said. "Going into my third year, I'm just looking to build on what I did in the past and just continue to get better each and every day. So hopefully I'll have a great year this year coming up and I'm going to just take it one day at a time."
The Redskins kept Harris on the practice squad for the first couple months of the season, impressed with his rookie year production but without a spot for him to begin 2017. He was a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent, playing in 10 games and collecting eight passes for 66 yards to start his career.
With the team adding Paul Richardson Jr., retaining Brian Quick but losing Ryan Grant and Terrelle Pryor Sr. to free agency, Harris figures to have a good opportunity to compete for the fourth wide receiver spot in the group.
Part of that preparation has been a steady diet of training each day at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, as well as around the Ashburn, Va., area, even getting in some footwork drills in the snow last week.
"I train every day and just stay in shape," Harris said. "I figure if you stay in shape you don't have to get in shape, so I'm going to just continue working hard and looking forward to the offseason program to get better."
Like his peers, Harris will have a new challenge in developing a rapport with quarterback Alex Smith, taking over the team at quarterback.
"I'm excited," Harris said. "I'm excited for him to be here and for us to work together and stuff. Hopefully we can build a relationship and connect on the same page."
In the meantime, until he really gets to know Smith, Harris will focus on staying in the present.
"I'm just going to continue to build my game," he said. "I know that I can play at this level but I still have a lot to work on. Like you said, I like to catch the ball and do different things and special teams also. So that's going to be big for me this year, continuing to build special teams, offense and wherever I can help."