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The Rams' Harris enjoyed his time in the spotlight

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  • The Rams' Harris enjoyed his time in the spotlight

    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

    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."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams will start Harris at running back
    by RamWraith
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Dec. 10 2004

    Arlen Harris is rested, ready and rarin' to go. "They call me 'fresh legs,'"
    Harris said, laughing. "I'll be able to go out there and take some punishment."

    Rookie Steven Jackson and veteran Marshall Faulk are nursing bruised knees and
    will be unable to carry a full load Sunday. So coach Mike Martz said Friday
    that Harris will be in the lineup at running back when the Rams (6-6) meet the
    Carolina Panthers (5-7) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in a contest
    with heavy playoff implications in the NFC.

    "Arlen will start, and Marshall's ready to go, I think," Martz said. "And
    we'll just see where Steven is on Sunday."

    Jackson, the team's first-round draft pick, started for a gimpy Faulk last
    Sunday and ran for 119 yards on 26 carries in a 16-6 victory over San
    Francisco. Jackson was hurt on his last series, and the knee swelled
    considerably and needed to be drained. Jackson didn't practice all week.

    "We're going to get him back in short order," Martz assured. "If he misses
    this one, I'm sure he'll be back the following week. But I don't know that he
    misses this one. We just have been very, very cautious with him."

    Harris, a second-year pro, has just one carry this year -- a 2-yard jaunt
    against the *****. Still, that brief appearance was helpful, he said. "Just
    being able to touch the ball last week gave me confidence," Harris said. "This
    week, I'll be more comfortable."

    The 5-10, 212-pound Harris made the team last year as an undrafted rookie who
    hadn't played as a college senior because of an eligibility glitch. He was
    productive in two starts, rushing for 85 yards against Green Bay and 81 against
    Pittsburgh in relief of the injured Faulk and Lamar Gordon, who earlier this
    season was traded to Miami.

    "They told me to go about this week like I'm starting, and now that I know I'm
    definitely starting, it's not a problem," said Harris, 24. "I'm definitely
    excited to get an opportunity to run the ball. Being a rookie last year, I was
    a little bit nervous. But now I have a year under my belt, and I feel
    comfortable with the offense. . . .

    "It's a great opportunity. I'll just go out there and do my best, and
    hopefully we don't skip a beat."

    Martz expects that to be the case. "I'm not worried about Arlen at all," he
    said. "He's a terrific runner. He's hard to knock off his feet. He's real
    patient. His run reads are really outstanding. He's a much better player than
    he was a year ago, and he played well...
    -12-11-2004, 08:10 AM
  • RamWraith
    Cason, Harris Competing for Job
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    If only the best of Arlen Harris and the best of Aveion Cason could be combined into one player, you might be left with the best third running back in the NFL.

    Take, for example, Harris’ hard-nosed running style and combine it with Cason’s breakneck speed and the potential for the perfect backup/kick returner would certainly exist.

    But, since Dr. Frankenstein isn’t available, the Rams could be forced to choose between Harris and Cason for the third running back spot behind starter Steven Jackson and future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

    And that’s one choice that could prove quite difficult when cuts begin next week. Although Harris and Cason remain good friends, both understand the sense of urgency needed to claim what could come down to an either/or situation as opposed to keeping both as St. Louis did last year.

    “They (the coaches) might expect something, but we won’t know until that last cut day or that last day so you have got to practice and play every day like you aren’t going to be here,” Harris said. “I try to stay away from rumors and just worry about myself.”

    Cason is taking that exact approach.

    “I am going to have to go out and compete every day in practice and every day in the games,” Cason said. “I know how it is and I know how tough it is going to be so I have to go out and take advantage of each and every opportunity that I have. All I can do is go out and do my job and do my part.”

    With guys like Faulk and Jackson ahead of them, it has been difficult for Harris and Cason to get too many opportunities, but there have been flashes from both players.

    It isn’t like either player is a newcomer to the game either. Harris is entering his third season with the Rams after making it as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2003.

    At the time, Harris’ making the team came as a surprise and some thought it might not last too long, but Harris has continually proved his doubters wrong.

    “I’m in my third year so I kind of know what to expect and kind of understand my role on this team,” Harris said. “I definitely feel comfortable in my status. This year I am definitely more comfortable in my abilities. I know the offense. You have got to have that feeling though because nobody is above the league. You could be traded, you could be cut, you just never know so you can never relax at this level.”

    Harris had done everything asked of him since arriving in St. Louis making him a favorite of the coaching staff. From his spot start as a rookie against Pittsburgh in 2003 when he scored three touchdowns to his willingness to add about 20 pounds to his smallish frame and move to fullback, Harris has earned his hard-working reputation on the team.

    In fact, the additional weight and move...
    -08-26-2005, 05:10 AM
  • RamWraith
    Harris leads Cason in fight for third spot
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 28 2005

    Will it be Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason when the Rams trim their
    roster to the final 53?

    Or is it an either-or proposition for the two running backs behind Steven
    Jackson and Marshall Faulk on the Rams' depth chart?

    Early in training camp, coach Mike Martz set out the parameters for Harris and

    "One's not going to eliminate the other if they're both playing good," Martz
    said at the time. "Now, if one's playing really good and the other one's not,
    yeah, you eliminate the other guy. But if they're (both) playing good, we're
    going to keep them somehow, some way."

    A decision may not be rendered until the final roster cuts on Sept. 4. But at
    the moment, Harris is the clear-cut leader for the No. 3 running back spot
    ahead of Cason.

    "It's time for Aveion to relax and be himself," running backs coach Wilbert
    Montgomery said. "Every day that goes by and every practice that goes by, the
    window keeps shrinking. You're in a competitive situation. You're trying to
    fight for a spot on the team. At some point, the light's got to go on in the
    room so you can see everything, and you've got to come out of the dark."

    Cason realizes he has to make something happen in the Rams' final two
    exhibition games, beginning tonight in Detroit.

    "I feel like I do," he said. "I feel like I have to go out and make some plays,
    either if it's on special teams or on offense."

    Cason, 26, carried six times for only 7 yards in the exhibition opener against
    Chicago. He did not carry from scrimmage last week in San Diego.

    In two exhibition games, Harris, 25, has gained 67 yards on 19 carries,
    including a 10-for-40 effort against the Chargers that included an impressive
    33-yard run.

    Cason also has been outperformed on kickoff returns so far. He has a 19.3-yard
    average on four returns, while cornerback Terry Fair has averaged 22.8 yards on
    six returns.

    Harris, who was the Rams' primary kickoff return man until giving way to Cason
    late last season, hasn't returned a kickoff this preseason. But that could
    change tonight in Detroit, and Harris is eager for any return duty.

    "That's something that I like to do," Harris said. "I feel I'm at a great
    playing weight for it."

    Harris bulked up to nearly 230 pounds last year because the Rams planned to try
    him at fullback. "It was just too much weight," Harris said. "I had a lot of
    different injuries and pulls."

    Those fullback plans never really materialized,...
    -08-29-2005, 05:50 AM
  • RamWraith
    Harris steps up and delivers
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Marshall Faulk was dressed but reserved for emergency duty.
    Steven Jackson was in sweats, not even on the 45-man active roster.

    With the Rams' top two backs nursing bruised knees, the running game rested
    solely in the hands of Arlen Harris, a second-year pro who had just one carry
    this year - a 2-yarder last week against San Francisco - before Sunday's game
    at Carolina.

    The offense had all sorts of problems in a 20-7 loss to the Panthers, most
    notably the six interceptions thrown by quarterback Chris Chandler. But don't
    count Harris among the culprits on a day when the Rams were held under 10
    points for the first time in more than two years.

    "He played his heart out," coach Mike Martz said. "I thought he did a terrific
    job running the ball."

    Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds, turned in a workmanlike performance, rushing
    19 times for 62 yards and catching four passes for 41 yards. His production
    represented 102 of the Rams' 289 total yards.

    "It felt good to get back in the swing of things," Harris said. "In the second
    half, we ran the ball a lot better. But playing from behind, it's a lot

    Harris started twice last season because of injuries to other backs,
    contributing 85 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, then adding 81 yards
    and three TDs vs. Pittsburgh. The Rams won both those games.

    "He's going to give his maximum effort, and he did that again," said tackle
    Orlando Pace. "It makes us want to do our job that much more." Added guard Adam
    Timmerman: "He ran hard. Offensive line-wise, I wish we could've got more for
    him and got the run game going earlier."

    The Panthers (6-7) bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were up 20-7
    at the half. At that point, Harris had run for only 18 yards. "They have two
    big guys in the middle (tackles Brentson Buckner and Kindal Moorehead) that
    clog the holes up pretty well," he said, "and with (defensive ends Julius)
    Peppers and (Mike) Rucker on the outside, they were getting upfield pretty

    Harris piled up 43 yards in the second half, 40 on one possession in which he
    carried nine times in a row. But that drive ended when the Rams (6-7) failed to
    convert on fourth and 2 at the Carolina 28-yard line. "I think we were wearing
    them down," Harris said. "We just couldn't get the ball in the end zone."

    That was largely because the interceptions - three in each half - continually
    scuttled their advances. The Rams totaled...
    -12-13-2004, 06:38 AM
  • RamWraith
    For now, Harris is Rams' starter at RB
    by RamWraith

    For the moment, Arlen Harris is the starting Rams running back. Freshly signed
    Aveion Cason is his replacement as the kickoff returner.

    Rookie running back Steven Jackson rested his swollen and bruised knee at
    practice Wednesday. And Marshall Faulk is still resting his bruised knee after
    sitting out Sunday's victory over the *****.

    Coach Mike Martz figures both Jackson and Faulk could be ready to play at
    Carolina on Sunday, but he'll know more later in the week.

    "It's hard to start (Jackson) if he doesn't practice," Martz said. "I think
    he'll be ready on Sunday. I'd like to get him some (practice) Friday and maybe
    a little tomorrow.

    "I believe we'll have Marshall, too."

    Harris started two games at running back last season when Faulk was injured,
    including an 81-yard, three-TD effort at Pittsburgh.

    With Harris getting all the work at running back in practice, Cason will
    prepare to return kicks Sunday. He briefly filled that role for the Rams back
    in 2001 before getting released.

    After stints with the Chiefs, Lions, Cowboys and Cardinals, Cason is getting
    another look in St. Louis. He will also provide depth at running back should
    Faulk or Jackson fail to progress.
    -12-09-2004, 05:29 AM