Anthony Harris has worked his way up from being an undrafted free agent to solid special teams asset to a player who can step in when needed on defense.
Now, as the Vikings safety enters his fifth season in the NFL, he appears primed for an even bigger role as the starter next to Harrison Smith.
Lorin Cox of Pro Football Focus recently wrote about Harris and how his role has grown in recent years, adding that the 28-year-old could be an integral part of Minnesota's defense in 2019.
Harris led the NFL with a passer rating allowed of just 24.0, targeted just 13 times on 340 coverage snaps. He gave up only seven catches for 52 yards with no touchdowns [and recorded] three interceptions and two pass breakups in 11 games. His 0.16 yards allowed per coverage snap was second among safeties with more than two catches given up, and he missed only two tackles over the season, good for a top-six tackling efficiency at his position.
Harris started to emerge in his first action off the bench, recording his first interception in just six coverage snaps against the Arizona Cardinals, but his signature performance came against the Chicago Bears in a Week 11 loss. He intercepted Mitchell Trubisky twice and added a pass breakup for good measure, despite only one target being thrown at his actual coverage responsibility.
Harris started the final nine games of the 2018 season after an injury to starter Andrew Sendejo, who is now with Philadelphia.
The former University of Virginia standout snagged a career-high three interceptions, which tied with Smith for the team lead, and recorded 43 total tackles (team stats) and six pass deflections.
Smith and Harris will likely begin Vikings Verizon Training Camp next to each other in the secondary, as the tandem was together during spring practices. Minnesota also has Jayron Kearse, rookies Marcus Epps, Micah Abernathy and Isaiah Wharton on the roster.
Harris' half-season heroics earned the Vikings' trust for 2019 and a second-round restricted free agent tender asking him to prove it for a full season. The team let Sendejo and [former Viking George] Iloka sign elsewhere this offseason, and currently, no one else on their depth chart has meaningful NFL experience at safety.
Minnesota doesn't need Harris to play like a top-five safety, but he has to help stabilize the side's secondary once again to cash in and rewrite the story of his NFL career.
If Harris can match his play from the final nine games of 2018, Minnesota could have one of the top safety tandems in the league.
The Aston Villa Football Club took a tour of the TCO Performance Center.
MMQB projects every NFL team's 2019 record
Most teams kick off training camp next week, but players have already arrived for other teams across the league.
It's a sign that the 2019 season is quickly approaching.
With the 2019 NFL season opener set for seven weeks from Thursday, and the Vikings season opener three days after that, Connor Orr of The MMQB recently projected each team's record for the upcoming campaign.
Orr has the Vikings atop the NFC North with an 11-5 record, which would mean a third division title in five seasons for Minnesota.
This was a draft befitting of a team that believes itself to be on the doorstep of the Super Bowl. The selections of Irv Smith and Garrett Bradbury were all about immediate functionality and upgrading the offense. This season should be a major rebound in Minnesota.
Orr has the Vikings edging out the 10-6 Bears for the NFC North crown and projects the Packers to finish 8-8. He has Detroit at 4-12.
Minnesota's projected record of 11-5 is tied for the second-best in the conference, along with division winners Philadelphia and Atlanta. Orr also has Seattle going 11-5, but the Seahawks finishing behind the 13-3 Rams.
Orr has the Patriots (12-4), Steelers (10-6), Colts (12-4) and Chiefs (13-3) winning their respective AFC divisions.