In the NFL, the middle linebacker is no longer worth a nickel.

For 50 years, middle linebackers were the most feared creatures in pro football. Of course, dinosaurs once ruled the earth. And how did that turn out for the Tyrannosaurus rex?

Now you know why Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who doesn't stand 6 feet tall and proudly reports he finally tips the scale at 200 pounds, is a bigger man in this league than Manti Te'o, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound linebacker for the San Diego Chargers.

"I play as many snaps, probably more than a linebacker," Harris said last week, when asked if he should be introduced as a starter with the rest of the Denver defense, even though he's pegged as the 12th man on the unit. "I think the nickel should be introduced, though. What do you think?"

In a game dominated by the pass, the new base defense for Denver is not the standard 4-3, but a nickel, which features five members of the secondary and is named for the position played by Harris.

Harris entered the NFL as an undrafted cornerback out of Kansas.