WR Chris Harper Makes an Early Impression

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The Jets as advertised have a wide-open wideout competition to go along with their QB derby. Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall, we know about. ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen are among the young players we're getting to know better.

Then there is a group of five receivers who've had pro experience elsewhere and are with the Green & White this preseason trying to find a spot in this new-look, fresh-faced wideout corps. Who among them will stand out this summer?

Perhaps Chris Harper.

"I've just been up and down," Harper described his NFL career to me, a handful of games and one catch with the Patriots in 2015, nine games, two starts and 13 catches for the 49ers last year. "I'm trying to make a good impression with these coaches so I can stay up on the roster this year."

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Harper (5'11", 185) has been making that impression the past couple of camp practices. Tuesday he snagged a pair of beauties, both on Bryce Petty throws. One was a diving one-hander for 35 yards. Another was a leaping out route and grab, the type that moves the chains on third-and-short.

"Honestly, I was just put in a position where they gave me a play where I could make a play," Harper said of the long ball. "Petty threw it and I just knew I had to come down with it. I messed up earlier in practice so I had to make up for it."

How did he mess up? He 'fessed up:

"I jumped offsides, so I had to run a lap and then I had to make a play to make up for it."

Besides the friendly, modest optimism of a player who wants to do good and stick around, Harp's got hands — head coach Todd Bowles noted that — and playmaking ability, which Petty discussed in relation to all the Jets' young guns.

Coordinator John Morton, Petty said, "talks a lot about releases, getting off press, attacking leverage and things like that. Things, from a quarterback standpoint, that I’ve never really heard of before, so it’s interesting to me as well. Those guys have really taken hold of that and taken it to the field. Harper is doing a great job. That’s going to be big during preseason."

"You want to believe in yourself as much as you can," the third-year wideout said. "You get picked up here and you want to stay here. I think that's my mindset right now. They gave me an opportunity here and I want to make the most of that opportunity."

The summer is long, but so far for Chris Harper, so good.

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