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Titans pick up ex-Grizzly Tuff Harris
Former Griz standout Tuff Harris is now a Tennessee Titan, after signing a two-year contract with the NFL team Tuesday morning, his agent Ken Staninger confirmed.
Harris, released three weeks ago by the New Orleans Saints, had a workout with the Titans a week ago. They apparently waited to clear roster space following their second exhibition game, a 17-16 win over Oakland.
“He’s practicing today,” Staninger said Tuesday. “We got a deal done first thing this morning. He’s under the gun, because he’s two weeks out of camp. But he’s working with the special teams coaches and the DB coaches.
“They’re going to integrate him into both the safety and corner positions.”
Harris, 6-foot and 198 pounds, played last season in Miami, after signing as a free agent out of the University of Montana. The Colstrip product played corner for the Grizzlies and became a record-setting punt return man his senior season, 2006.
“The special teams thing is where I think he’ll have a legitimate chance,” said Staninger. “If he can impress them enough on special teams, then they’ll give him time to learn (the defense).”
Harris played one game with the Dolphins in 2007, after spending much of the season on the practice squad. He was released by Miami this spring, then spent some time in New Orleans’ camp.
Then the Titans called. Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher has a son, Brandon, playing linebacker at UM, so he was familiar with Harris.
“I felt like I had a pretty good workout and I was told they would have signed me afterward but they had to make roster room after their second preseason game,” Harris told the Web site CrowNews.net.
“He’s excited,” Staninger said of Harris. “Nashville’s a great place to play. Hopefully it works out.”
Those still in uniform for the Grizzlies had a reprieve on Tuesday: A 20-degree difference in temperature from Monday’s second practice, and a short session at that.
“We’ve been going over 10 straight days or something, and that’s a lot of practices and they’ve been long,” head coach Bobby Hauck said after sending the players to the buses at 4:35 p.m. “All we did was cut it a period short.
“We give them one period off and you’d think we’d sent them to Disneyland.”
The Griz seemed to have a little bounce, more likely because of the drop in temperature (it was 100 on Monday) than their No. 8 ranking in the preseason poll from The Sports Network.
Among the nicer grabs on offense Tuesday was a diving catch by Tony Kazmierczak in 7-on-7, along with freshman Sam Gratton’s reception in traffic during 11-on-11 drills.
Tight end Rob Overton, like Kazmierczak a sophomore, caught a TD pass on a corner route in 11-on-11.
On the other side, freshman Trumaine Johnson made a pair of picks in that same series, one on a tipped ball.
On Monday, the second day of two-a-days, the defense had some solid play, lending confidence to a group that has just three starters back from 2007.
“We’re getting better. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re getting better,” said Hauck, whose club opens at No. 14 Cal Poly on Sept. 6. “At certain positions, I’d say linebacker and corner, it’s tangibly better every day.
“We have so far to go, we’re so inexperienced, we have to continue to get better on defense.”
Good news for the offense came in the form of Thomas Brooks-Fletcher, who took some reps without the red jersey that signifies an injury problem. The junior running back didn’t participate Monday afternoon.
“He’s had a sore knee, and I think he’s OK,” Hauck said. “He looked good today. He had some good reps.”
Brooks-Fletcher was a redshirt in 2005 after tearing an ACL in fall camp. He returned in 2006 to average 5.4 yards a carry, with three 100-yard games and 479 yards total. He ran for 126 yards in limited action, and is the most experience returning back.
QUICK KICKS: Former Griz left tackle Cody Balogh is listed as No. 2 at the same position for the Chicago Bears on their Web site. … Cory Procter (UM, 2001-04) is the No. 2 center for the Dallas Cowboys. … Jeff Shoate, who played a year at UM and three seasons at corner at San Diego State, had four tackles for New England on Sunday in the Patriots’ 27-10 exhibition loss to Tampa Bay. … Buck Buchanan Award winner Kroy Biermann had two tackles and was in on a sack of Jeff Sorgi in Atlanta’s loss to Indianapolis on Saturday. … While Dan Carpenter was drilling four field goals and a PAT kick for the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, fellow ex-Griz and teammate Lex Hilliard ran eight times for 20 yards and caught one pass for 6 yards, all in the second half.
By Fritz Neighbor