According to ESPN’s Mike Triplett and The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell the New Orleans Saints have zero plans of turning away from electric return specialist Deonte Harris. Harris who has had a roller-coaster start to the 2019-2020 season, added to his mixed bag of results Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a muffed punt he later recovered, and a controversial fumble in which no clear initial recovery was captured.
Deonte Harris catches this one, then fumbles and refs say @Saints recover. Life comin fast at the rookie— John DeShazier (@JohnDeShazier) October 6, 2019
After another uneven performance and his second fumble, many wondered if Head Coach Sean Payton would look to move on from the NCAA all-time leader in return touchdowns. In years past throughout the Payton era, whether it was Courtney Roby, Reggie Bush, or Tommylee Lewis, Payton has shown his tolerance for turnovers at the return position isn’t high. Whether he decided to reduce a role, or completely strip a player from their duties, there’s always been a punishment of sorts for turning over the football as a return specialist.
While things could change going forward, as of now Payton is invoking confidence in his talented specialist as he’s done all season even before Harris’ touchdown return in Seattle weeks ago, and his preseason scamper in against the New York Jets.
Saints coach Sean Payton rookie kick returner Deonte Harris has the traits to be a great returner in this league. So the Saints are going to work their tails off to clean up some of the ball control issues he's had so far.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) October 7, 2019
Sounds like Payton is in Deonte Harris' corner and he thinks he has the potential to be a great returner in this league.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) October 7, 2019
Harris may be on a short leash at some tenure, but for now it’s encouraging to see the coaching staff sticking with him as he continues to gain consistency and confidence. There’s no secret how game breaking his talents can be, the players on Saints sidelines stand up for every punt he fields, anticipating greatness, so there’s confidence from his peers as well.
Going forward however, it will be on Harris to deliver, if he isn’t making the big play, he just needs to make the smart play. The expectations have been there, so has the lofty praise, and now centers in the reassurance. Let’s just hope the return that comes from this works well for both.