The season has been a long one for cornerback Chris Harris Jr. He joined a new team. He has faced new challenges. He went through something he never went through as a Denver Bronco. Missing time due to injury.
Harris played 139 games in a Broncos uniform and only missed nine games in his career. He suffered a torn ACL in a divisional playoff game against these same Chargers in 2014. He was back on the field to start the season. In 2018, he missed the last four games of the season with a broken fibula—nine missed games.
He has been a Charger since March. He played three games in the uniform before missing eight games. He has missed almost as many games in one season as he did his whole career in Denver.
"The injury I had was hard to be able to recover from," said Harris. "I think it was kind of downplaying what I had. It was definitely very severe. So to be able to put that work in man and really try to get back on the field, man, I think it was, it was major for me to be able to help this team the best I can do to finish out the stretch strong."
In week three against the Carolina Panthers, Harris sustained a foot injury and was out for an extensive period.
"I had 700 pounds laying on my foot with Linval (Joseph) and then another o-lineman, so it was kind of friendly fire, but I just had to let all the bruising and swelling heal," said Harris.
It was tough for him to miss time. As previously stated, Harris had rarely missed time. He said he is a competitor, and for him missing time hurt.
"I think most guys would have been done for the year with the injury that I had, so I was definitely motivated to try to do whatever I can to get back and help this team," said Harris.
Harris finally came back on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. In a time were the Chargers needed him. Cornerback Casey Hayward was out due to a groin injury. They started Tevaughn Campbell outside opposite Michael Davis and had a different game plan for number 25.
"The game plan was me trying to take away the whole inside, be able to take away (Cole) Beasley or (Stefon) Diggs whenever those guys come to the slot and be able to just play my game. I felt like I definitely played a good game in the comeback."
Diggs and Beasley were held to a combined five catches for 64 yards. He was all over the field. Late in the game, he blitzed and got in Josh Allen's face, which made him throw an interception to Davis.
The team missed him and his play during his absence.
The Bolts blew numerous leads while he out. The defense gave up big plays while the offense at times slowed down. They gave up a lot of leads, even to Harris's old team.
"That game hurt," explained Harris. "I feel like I could have definitely helped us out in the situational game. I think we have seven seconds left to win that game on defense. So, I just think that definitely hurt not being able to play that game and be able to change the outcome, but I'll see when they come here."
He probably could have changed the outcome. The Chargers were up 24-3. The Broncos came back and won the game on a game-winning touchdown. More than likely, the player who caught the touchdown would have been Harris's man.
He will have a chance to face his former team in week 16 at SoFi Stadium.
Speaking of familiar foes, the Chargers will be playing the New England Patriots on Sunday. A team that Harris's Broncos faced a lot during their playoff run during the 2012-2015 seasons.
"They're going to be well prepared," explained Harris. "Situational football. We got to be A+ on that because Bill Belichick is going to be great with that and time management. Everything all across the board."
The Bolts are not in a good place right now. They are 3-8. They are struggling in all three phases of the game.
Right now, Anthony Lynn is looking towards his veteran players for leadership. Harris is someone who looked at during these times. He hasn't been through something like this. Maybe no one has, but the worst record he finished within Denver was 5-11.
Regardless, he knows the team has things they have to figure out.
"Definitely had some experience with some down years, but just really keeping that locker room together," explained Harris. "I just had to tell these guys that, hey, we got tons of talent on this team. Once we put it together, it's going to be hard for teams to beat us. We just got to really figure out identity."