Remember that Ryan Harris kid from Cretin-Derham Hall? The large youngster the Gophers coveted but Notre Dame landed while sweeping the state of its top three prospects?

Yeah, well, he's 30.

"It goes fast," the nine-year NFL veteran said this week.

The other two in the trio that tortured Gophers fans on signing day in 2003 were John Carlson and Trevor Laws. They, too, played in the NFL but are now retired.

Harris, meanwhile, is back in Denver with the Broncos, where he was a third-round draft pick in 2007 and last played in 2010. He started the past three weeks at right tackle but has been moved to left tackle to replace injured rookie Ty Sambrailo when the 3-0 Broncos face the 2-1 Vikings on Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

So, essentially Harris' primary goal in his second Denver stint is to help coach Gary Kubiak's patchwork offensive line keep Peyton Manning alive until his 40th birthday while also improving upon the team's 31st-ranked running attack.

"In many ways, it's similar being back," Harris said. "But, then again, in many ways, it's so different."

On the field, Harris said he's a better player at 30. Off the field, he's taken on three new roommates since his last stop in Denver. Two of them can be really loud at all hours.

"Hey, nobody told me having kids was going to be this hard," joked Harris, who has a 2-year-old son, William, and a 1-year-old daughter, Betsy. "Married. Two kids. It's a totally different scene for me now."

On the field, there's also a slight difference between Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning.

"At first, you look at Peyton in the huddle and it's like you're in a Gatorade commercial or something," Harris said. "You feel like you won a ticket to be there."

But, according to Harris, Manning is quick to make all of his teammates, including the practice squad guys, feel at ease. He knows everyone's name and still greets the new guys with a handshake and a, "Hi, I'm Peyton Manning."

"I think everybody already knows who he is," Harris said with a laugh. "Every time we look up at the TV, he's in a commercial. But he doesn't act above anybody."

Manning also praised his struggling offensive line this week for its effort through a difficult transition. The five starters hadn't played a snap together before the regular season began.

For three weeks, there was a rookie at left tackle and a first-year starter at center. Meanwhile, the left guard, former Eagle Evan Mathis, wasn't signed until late August.

And now Harris is shifting sides while backup Michael Schofield steps in at right tackle. Tyler Polumbus, who was signed this week, will be the swing tackle.

Harris rejoined the Broncos via free agency after starting 15 games for the Chiefs a year ago. He played for Kubiak in Houston from 2012-13 and was at the top of the short list for Denver's zone-blocking scheme when veteran tackle Ryan Clady blew out a knee during a spring practice.

"I couldn't have landed in a better situation," Harris said.

Competitively speaking, Manning isn't the only advantage to playing in Denver. The Broncos also have the No. 1-ranked defense, led by dynamic edge-rushing linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.

"Training camp with those guys is quite the humbling experience," said Harris, who has started 57 of his 97 NFL games. "Before the games start, you almost feel bad for the other tackles."

Then there is the altitude in Denver. The Broncos made sure to remind visiting teams of it with a sign on the tunnel that says: "On behalf of the residents of Denver, Colorado, welcome to the Mile High city. Elevation 5280'."

"Absolutely, there's an effect," Harris said. "It's something like 20 percent less oxygen up here. But everywhere you play is part of the process of looking for a win. Like when you go to Kansas City and you can't hear yourself think."

Naturally, Harris said he grew up a Vikings fan.

"If you make a mistake this week, everybody back home is going to know about it," Harris said. "It's funny playing the Vikings. For me, I just really cherish the experience and the process. To be able to play the Vikings, not in a flag football league or the pewee league, but the real-deal Vikings, it's just surreal, man. Every player in the NFL has a unique journey. I appreciate the journey."