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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to block Michael Harris #79 of the San Diego Chargers during the game on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
A rookie left tackle for the San Diego Chargers has a daunting has ahead of him next week.
On Monday night at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Mike Harris will be protecting franchised quarterback Phillip Rivers’ blindside.
That’s a big task. Even for a big guy like Harris -- he stands at 6-foot-5-inches and weighs 310 pounds.
The preparation for the task is no less monumental. And 23-year-old Harris knows that. Starting Monday, he needs to be ready -- not just for his NFL debut, but for a war out on the field.
“I’ve got to become a pro,” he said. “There’s no room for being a rookie anymore. This team is counting on me to do my job and so that’s what I’ve got to do.”
Harris said he's been working especially hard on his technique. He’s been practicing his footwork, quickening his step, his reaction time to the snap and memorizing the schemes and blitz faces of his opponent.
“I know the preseason was fast,” Harris said. “The regular season is going to be even faster. Just got to learn to think fast.”
He'll have to think fast.
And as any athlete knows, the pregame idiosyncrasies can affect a player’s mental game as much as the weeks and months of physical training beforehand.
But the bigger question is: What will be playing through Mike Harris’ headphones before the game?
“Rick Ross,” Harris said. “Getting tough and just starting to feel aggressive because…it’s going to be war. I know my team and my coaches are counting on me to play my best.”