Deonte Harris welcomes expanded role in Saints' offense


Deonte Harris earned All-Pro honors as a kick returner for the Saints last season. 

This year, the former undrafted free agent, could see his role expand. He’s worked more at receiver throughout this training camp as Saints coaches think Harris has the ability to be an impact player on offense.

"Well, the first thing you think about is you see what he does on special teams,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Campbell said. “But just when the ball is in his hands, you continuously see a guy that makes plays.  And so again, as we're going through our install, we're trying to find ways to get everybody balls and just kind of maybe put them in the positions that they can show us what's best for them. And we'll continue to find ways to do that."

Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson said the team wanted to use Harris more on offense during his rookie season, but couldn’t because of the minor injuries Harris dealt with that limited his reps during his first NFL training camp.

“I always tease him that this was really his first training camp,” Johnson said. “But now we're starting to see what he can do. We love everything about him. We noticed it last year, RC (Ronald Curry) and I just really wanted to do more with him, but we just couldn't because he didn't have a training camp (to develop), because he was hurt the whole time."

Johnson said Harris’ athletic traits are like “clay that you can mold.”

“One thing is that he does not have very many bad habits,” Johnson said. “If you have got a guy that doesn't have very many bad habits (that's a positive).” 

Johnson said Harris is a “natural” pass catcher, gets in and out of breaks well and judges deep passes well. Harris displayed some of these traits in the Saints' playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings last season, when he hauled in a 50-yard reception from Taysom Hill.   

"Now what we got to work on, me and RC, we have got to work on the intermediate stuff with him," Johnson said. "But all the other stuff,  I think it will come. But he's one heck of a little athlete."

Harris said he worked on becoming a better receiver in anticipation of his new role.

"Special teams is kind of what I focused on last year, because I knew that would be my role coming in," he said. "But, I got to train and I worked with a lot of guys to try to get better at the receiver position."

Harris said his dream was simply to play in NFL and welcomes the added responsibility.

"The more they give me the better," Harris said. "I just want to go out just try to help the team win games."