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Harris tries filling Fisher's shoes
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The newest member of the Rams once came back from the dead.
When running back Kay-Jay Harris was in high school in Tampa, Fla., he was involved in a roll-over auto accident with two other students. A local radio station reported that they had been killed, and an announcement to that effect was made to their classmates.
All three survived, though. Harris suffered only a cut finger.
Now, Harris, 27, is trying to give life to his career in the NFL. On Tuesday, he signed a two-year contract. The 6-foot, 240-pounder who runs a 4.5-second 40 replaces Tony Fisher on the Rams' roster.
Fisher tore a ligament in his right knee Sunday against Kansas City and will undergo surgery. He was placed on the injured reserve list Tuesday, officially ending his season.
A fifth-year pro who was in his first season with the Rams, Fisher was the No. 3 running back behind Steven Jackson and Stephen Davis. Fisher rushed just six times for 9 yards, but caught 14 passes for 159 yards.
He also was a key special-teams contributor. He had been the primary kick returner the past two games, averaging 20.6 yards on eight attempts.
Miami signed Harris as an undrafted rookie in 2005, when Rams coach Scott Linehan was the Dolphins' offensive coordinator. Harris spent the 2005 season and the first three weeks of this season on Miami's practice squad. He was released Oct. 5.
His familiarity with Linehan's schemes, plus his extensive special-teams experience, made Harris a logical choice to step in for Fisher, Linehan said.
"He knows our offense, he knows our (pass) protections, he knows our running game, and he's very good on special teams," Linehan said. He added that Harris "will be in the mix" on several special-teams units — although he won't be used as a returner — and could see action Sunday in Seattle.
"Whatever I can do to help the team win, if it's on special teams or as a third-down back ... I'll do anything they ask me to do," Harris said. "I'm just happy to get the opportunity to play. I've been waiting for a year and a half now."
Linehan said J.R. Reed would return kicks vs. the Seahawks. Reed averaged 20.2 yards on 14 returns before Fisher took over.
Harris played two seasons at West Virginia University after starting out at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. In 23 games for the Mountaineers, he ran for 1,483 yards and 14 touchdowns. He caught 25 passes for 292 yards and three TDs.
His biggest game came in 2004, when he gashed East Carolina for 337 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers, Harris spent three seasons in the minor leagues, all at the Class A level. Harris, a center fielder, never hit higher than .224 and returned to football in 2001.
The Tampa native, whose full name is Kevin Jermaine Harris, has yet to suit up for a regular-season NFL game. He is the only player who worked out for the Rams on Tuesday.
"Really, Kay-Jay was the guy I wanted," Linehan said