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Former Saints UDFA Erik Harris ‘stunning’ Jon Gruden

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Erik Harris didn’t cut it in New Orleans, but he’s making Pro Bowls in Oakland.

San Diego, CA - New Orleans Saints defensive back Erik Harris (30) catches a pass before a 2016 regular season game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego, CA - New Orleans Saints defensive back Erik Harris (30) catches a pass before a 2016 regular season game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like the New Orleans Saints import a standout defensive player from the Canadian Football League every year: Delvin Breaux, Adam Bighill, and Erik Harris are the three most-recent signees. Sure, results vary - Breaux is still waiting to join a team ahead of next month’s training camp, Bighill returned to the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers after a year on New Orleans’ practice squad, and Harris is currently getting starter reps at safety after being nominated for last year’s Pro Bowl off of special teams play.

Harris struggled to get on the field in New Orleans after a rough initial summer. He got turned around to take some bad angles in preseason games and didn’t look to have the range the Saints coveted, and later found in Marcus Williams. Relegated to special teams duties, Harris ended his rookie season with a torn ACL in practice following his interception of Drew Brees.

Fortunately for Harris, things have turned up in a big way. He’s since joined the Oakland Raiders and earned unprompted praise from $100-million head coach Jon Gruden, then followed that up with some great practice reps in place of injured starter Marcus Gilchrist. While Harris didn’t make the roster in New Orleans - better players like Williams, Vonn Bell, and Chris Banjo leapfrogged him on the depth chart - it’s cool to see a former Saints hopeful find some success.

Considering Harris’ close friendship to Breaux - they were teammates in the CFL, and the New Orleans native stood by in support of Harris at his 2016 Saints tryout - and the Raiders’ thin group at cornerback, it’s simple to connect some dots and wonder if Breaux could end up at the Silver and Black’s training camp next month. It’s a shame neither of them worked out long-term in New Orleans, but these guys remain easy to root for.