Despite All-Pro season, Saints' Deonte Harris still has room to improve


Saints kick returner Deonte Harris is coming off an All-Pro rookie season. He made the Pro Bowl and led the NFL in punt return yards as he established himself as one of the league’s most reliable returners.

But that doesn’t mean he’s a “finished product yet.”

“I say this all the time. I think people look at me like I am crazy, but I think Deonte can actually really improve a lot,” Saints special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “I think people will just automatically look at the numbers, his accolades, the All-Pro and Pro Bowl and all that and automatically assume that this guy has got it figured out. I think Deonte would probably be the first guy to tell you that he has enough things to work on.”

Rizzi pointed to some bad decisions by Harris early in the season along with ball security as areas where he could improve. 

“We know he has the ability, that is obviously a no-brainer,” Rizzi said. “He is very dangerous with the ball in his hand, but I think now (he's) refining his return game.

“What I mean by that is just kind of getting better at the little things.”

Rizzi said Harris was trending up at the end of last season and is hoping he’ll pick up where he left off when the team gathers for training camp.

The NCAA’s all-time leader for return touchdowns could see his role increase in offense as well.

“We like to bring the young guys along slow,” Saints assistant Ronald Curry said. “Put him at one position, bring him in and kind of back Ted Ginn Jr. up doing some reverses and things of that nature. 

“But just getting to know him a little better. He missed a lot of training camp time with the hamstring. It was slow for him to get going and it's hard that we didn't have a (traditional) offseason this offseason. It's kind of been hard to say how much he's grown, but I'm pretty sure he's somewhere putting in work. I talk to him every now and then just to see what he can handle. He'll come in and his role will expand.”