Nick Harris Gets Big Break with Browns, No Turning Back Now

The former University of Washington center did well as an emergency fill-in at guard for Cleveland.

Nick Harris was just minding his own business.

Standing on the sideline for the Cleveland Browns.

An NFL rookie, waiting his long-range turn.

Last Sunday, Harris suddenly was summoned. 

On the second play of the game against the New York Giants, the Browns lost right guard Chris Hubbard to a season-ending knee injury.

Hubbard was subbing for normal starter Wyatt Teller, who was out with a sprained ankle.

Harris, the Browns' backup center and a third-string guard, was healthy and hearty.

In he went.

The former University of Washington standout was sensational in relief, with his near-perfect blocking — he permitted a late sack — enabling the Browns to take a 20-6 victory over the Giants and improve their record to 10-4.

"He did his job, played hard and got people on the ground," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said of Harris. "I was really pleased with the way he played. He played at a high level."

With Hubbard out for good and Teller unlikely to be healthy again soon, Harris is expected to draw his first NFL starting assignment at right guard on Sunday against another New York team, the Jets, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

"I felt comfortable." Harris said of his Browns relief role. "I just want to be the best person and the best player I can be."

He's just the latest of several former Huskies from last season's team making NFL advances in recent weeks, among them Salvon Ahmed, Myles Gaskin, Myles Bryant and Hunter Bryant. 

In 13 previous Cleveland games, Harris played in each one as a special-teamer, drawing 49 snaps. He drew just one regular scrimmage play against Dallas in his second outing. 

As the emergency right guard against the Giants last weekend, he drew 62 plays. The former two-time All-Pac-12 selection and Browns' fifth-round draft pick was primed for a full workload again.

"It was good to get back on the field," Harris said. "I haven't played in an actual game for a while, so it was nice to be out there. I think I did OK. There's a lot I need to clean up, so I can help the team, but it was a great experience for my first game playing guard."

Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield approved of the new guy on the offensive line. The Browns leader was able to complete 27 of 32 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.

"The way Nick stepped up and played guard, and he is our backup center, and for him to be able to step up and play a different position is tremendous," Mayfield said. "Hats off to him for mentally being ready and being able to come out there and play well."

Harris was 17 when he started his first game for the UW, also at guard, so he's used to big challenges. He still considers himself a center. Yet he's pragmatic about it all.

"At the end of the day, it's football," Harris said. "I played guard my first two years in college, so it wasn't foreign to me. It was just a matter of knocking the dust off and getting my feet wet."

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