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Preseason or not, Lions rookie Will Harris savors first pro touchdown

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Houston — It's preseason football, it doesn't count, but that shouldn't diminish Will Harris' special moment. 

In the second quarter of Saturday's preseason game against the Houston Texans, Harris scooped up a fumble forced by teammate Romeo Okwara and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown, the team's first of the preseason. 

Detroit Lions' Will Harris (43) celebrates with Anthony Pittman (57) and Romeo Okwara after returning a fumble for a touchdown against Houston Texans during the first half.

In the moment, Harris excitedly raced through the back of the end zone to Detroit's sideline, where he was mobbed by a number of teammates and hoisted up by linebacker Jarrad Davis. 

Yet in the locker room after the game, Harris described the play with the monotony of documentary film narrator. 

"I mean, at this point, it's routine," Harris said about scooping up the loose ball. "That's something we always try to practice is attacking the ball, getting the ball out by any means, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

"I didn't see exactly who it was (who knocked the ball loose,"  Harris continued. "I saw somebody raking at the ball and then I saw the ball on the ground. That's when practice plays itself into the game. I just did what was second-nature, what came to me that I've done in practice."

Rookies don't like to stand out for anything other than their play, so it's understandable why Harris described scoring a touchdown in the NFL game the way a person might have described a meatloaf dinner from last week, but prodded further he admitted the meaning of the moment. 

"Don't get me mistaken, (it was) really exciting," Harris said. "A rookie coming in, those are plays you live for, especially your first touchdown. It felt great."

Harris, a third-round pick out of Boston College, has gotten off to a slow start in his first offseason with the Lions, especially in coverage, but you could see things starting to click this week during joint practices with the Texans. 

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That success on the practice field carried over to the game, where in addition to the scoop and score, he recorded a team-high six tackles and broke up a third-down pass.

On the flip side, he was bailed out by a holding penalty on the offense on a play where he surrendered a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone. 

"I'm just trying to learn how offenses are trying to attack us, knowing and trying to master and perfect my role within the defense," he said. "And, using the coaching and techniques from practice, trying to apply them on game days, just keep compounding those good habits and try to get better at something every day.

"The game is definitely slower than it was when I first came into Detroit and started practicing with these guys, but I'm receiving a lot of help from the coaches, obviously, but especially the older guys in the DB room, they've really taken me under their wing."

As for the ball from his first touchdown, Harris dropped it while celebrating with his teammates and has no idea where it ended up.  

"I don't know what I did with it," he said. "Hopefully someone kept it."

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers