By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

The capricious nature of life in the NFL is hitting home for the Rams' Arlen
Harris. A year ago as a rookie, he was a key contributor in a 34-24 victory
over the Packers, rushing for 85 yards and his first pro touchdown.

But unless catastrophe suddenly strikes the backfield, Harris' only chance to
touch the ball Monday night in Green Bay will be lugging back kickoffs. That's
his primary duty - he's averaged 20.6 yards on 33 returns - now that he's the
Rams' third-team running back.

"That's the way the NFL is," said Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds. "But at the
same time, you've still got to be prepared. Like last year, I wouldn't have
thought I'd have that much playing time, with Marshall Faulk and Lamar
(Gordon). But things happened."

When the Packers arrived at the Edward Jones Dome on Oct. 19, 2003, Faulk was
out with hand and knee injuries. Gordon went down early in the first quarter
with a sprained ankle, and Harris was the next option.

He started the following two games before Faulk returned.

For an undrafted rookie who sat out his senior season at Hofstra and came to
camp as a long shot to make the roster, Harris had came a long way in a short
time.

He called the Green Bay game "the start of it all. It gave me a lot of
confidence. I got a chance to run the ball a whole lot, with Marshall and Lamar
down. I'll always remember that game."

Harris got only two carries over the last half of the schedule. And when the
Rams took Oregon State running back Steven Jackson in the first-round (No. 24
overall) of the draft last April, Harris knew that he was headed back for the
bottom of the depth chart. He's yet to line up in the backfield this year.

"It's just common sense," he said. "(Jackson) was the first back taken, and
that's just the way the chips fell. You want more of it, but it's not hard to
accept at all. ... So I just have to be ready and do my best on special teams."

All the while biding his time until his next chance comes.

"Everybody has to have that mentality; no one's excluded from getting their
spot taken or getting hurt," he said. "A lot of people have to wait five, six
years for their opportunity. I just have to make sure I'm ready."