Despite what Twitter may tell you, defensive backs Madre Harper and Montre Hartage are in fact, two different people, and the latter is set to replace the former in the New York Giants‘ secondary.
Harper, an undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois, will miss at minimum the next three games as he’s been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. He now joins the likes of fellow defensive backs Ryan Lewis and Adrian Colbert, each of whom were placed on I.R. earlier this season. In a corresponding move, Hartage has been signed to the team’s active roster from the practice squad.
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Harper Has Yet to Tap Into His Potential With Giants
Harper had been held out of every practice session this week and was already ruled out for Sunday’s game when the team released their Friday injury report. Plucked off the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad in early October, the 6-foot-1-inch, 196-pound corner looked destined to hammer down a significant defensive role at a position of need for the G-Men.
That notion appeared to carry weight, at least early on. Harper played 37 defensive snaps over his first five games with New York, including a season-high 24 in Week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, since then the 23-year-old Irving (TX) native has been delegated to strictly special teams duties, not drawing a single defensive snap in four straight games. This, despite the fact that Isaac Yiadom was tossed aside for Ryan Lewis, who eventually landed and remains on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Both of whom were only given an opportunity after Week 1 starter Corey Ballentine was benched and eventually waived on November 10.
On the season, Harper has collected five combined tackles and one fumble recovery. He’s chipped in with 115 special team snaps.
Despite his limited usage, Harper is still a prospect worth developing. Harper posted a 4.41 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 4.1-second short shuttle and 6.7-second three-cone at Southern Illinois’ Pro Day. All four marks would have finished within the top-five at his position had he been invited to the NFL combine.
Hartage’s Whirlwind 1st Year in NY
Hartage is no stranger to the Giants’ active roster, having been promoted as a “standard exemption” on multiple occasions (Wk. 8 & Wk. 9). With that said, an extended stay on the roster is far more foreign to the former First-Team All-Big Ten selection.
Hartage has been waived on three separate occasions this season struggling to find a home in the Giants’ secondary. A versatile athlete with experience playing both the safety and cornerback position, Hartage was viewed by many as a dark horse candidate to lock down the starting gig opposite James Bradberry this summer, namely due to his physicality (6-foot, 190-pound collegiate safety) and connection to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Instead, Hartage failed to make Big Blue’s initial 53-man roster and has since tumbled down the pecking order as the team has made numerous late-offseason/in-season additions in the secondary (Harper, Lewis, Logan Ryan).
Still, Hartage’s versatility and knowledge of Graham’s system from their time spent together in Miami always leaves the door open for the former Northwestern standout to find his way on to the field in some capacity. If he gets that chance, he may be difficult to usurp.
As NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein once put it, “If teams don’t care for instincts, toughness and ball production, then they probably won’t like Montre Hartage.”