Anthony Harris might be coming off of a breakout year for the Minnesota Vikings, but the safety isn't entering the 2019 season with a different mindset.
The Chesterfield, Va., native spent his first three seasons with the Vikings as a backup. But with Andrew Sendejo missing time a year ago, Harris burst onto the scene in his fourth season and made nine starts. He excelled as he made 43 tackles, had three interceptions and broke up six other passes. He was also one of the higher rated safeties in the league.
"Just preparation and staying patient, not going out there and chasing plays," Harris said of having a successful season. "That's how you can get yourself in trouble."
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Harris showed he could excel in the NFL a year ago, but he has always believed he had the talent to succeed in the league.
"I come into camp confident every year," Harris said. "I put in the work in the offseason and that's just part of that confidence. You put in the work so you come in confidence. This year it was the same thing, prepare strong in the offseason and just come in believing in myself and not really worrying about what I did last year. It's a whole new year and I have to go out and compete."
"I think Anthony has always had confidence in his ability and things like that," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "He is a very smart player. He is actually moving better right now. Last year, he was gimping around a little bit with some minor little things. I think he is doing a good job."
Harris said he spends a lot of time studying his craft. Now in his fifth season in the league, he is not only a veteran on Minnesota defense, but he will also step into a starting role with Sendjo no longer on the team.
"For me, it's always be prepared," Harris said. "It's always try to push myself, even if I'm not penciled in to be a starter. It's always just going out there and being professional and each week staying focused and being a good teammate. Nothing is going to change there."
Harris' responsibilities will change, however, with his expanded role. He will be patrolling the middle of the Minnesota secondary with Harrison Smith. The two have been teammates since Harris entered the league in 2015.
"It's the same with mindset," Harris said. "Each year I continue to grow with confidence and that's just being comfortable with the guys I'm playing with. And being more familiar with the defense. As I've continued to expand that knowledge, my confidence has continued to grow. From there it's just believing in my talent and my preparation and just going and playing."
Harris figures to be the lone newcomer in the Vikings' starting secondary this season as Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes will again start at cornerback and Mackensie Alexander will be the nickel back. But Harris said he is comfortable playing with the reserve defensive backs as well.
"I think I got in a rotation with a number of guys at different times," Harris said. "Being on the field with different groups, that's something the coaches do a good job of and getting guys reps so we all have decent chemistry so we can go out there and play if the opportunity is called."
Harris said he tries to maintain an even keel on the playing field. Zimmer has called out the defense at times during training camp, but Harris tries to avoid that scorn and play at a high level at all times.
"For me, consistency is big," Harris said. "Just knowing that you're here for a reason and have the ability to play and then just putting in the work each week. Studying, knowing the game plan and then just staying patient and then making the plays that are there for you to make."
As the Vikings opened preseason on Friday night, Harris said he is trying to build his way up into having another solid year. And he looks to improve in the process.
"Continue to be solid in tackling and continue to be good in coverage and be a good communicator," he said. "And continue to be a good teammate."