By Bob Bonett
Jets Staff Writer
November 1st, 2007
Can LB David Harris possibly top his 17 tackle performance during his first start last week against the Bills? (Jets Photo)
Can LB David Harris possibly top his 17 tackle performance during his first start last week against the Bills? (Jets Photo)
If there was any doubt amongst fans and the media prior to Sunday’s game against Buffalo as to whether or not rookie LB David Harris could lead a huddle, 17 tackles and a sack certainly alleviated fears regarding his inexperience.

Apparently, Harris also impressed inside of the locker room and amongst the coaching staff.

“He was the signal caller in college; he had that role. He had a leadership position on the team, so you would anticipate those things transferring to the next level,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “That’s one of the things that we look for in our players, the players that we bring in is not just their play on the field, but what else they bring to the locker room, and what else they bring to the field.”

In college at Michigan, a perennial BCS contender, Harris had the same role that LB Jonathan Vilma had prior to his knee injury, captaining the defense and calling the defensive plays. DL Eric Hicks suggested that experience has lent Harris a hand in transitioning from a rookie to the team’s defensive manager.

“He played in a Big 10 program at Michigan, and I think it helps him being familiar with Jim Herman, our linebacker coach, who was a coach at Michigan,” Hicks said “He went out there and played remarkably well, and I remember looking up at the board during a T.V. timeout at one point and he had 11 tackles in the second quarter, so obviously he’s in there doing a lot of good things.”

Harris, however, has not let any of the attention get to his head, and still appears humble despite his breakout performance.

There was not an inkling of overconfidence when Harris spoke in the locker room, as he refused to acknowledge how hard of a hitter he appeared to be on the field against the Bills.

“I give credit to my coaches and other linebackers; they did a good job of helping me prepare for the game,” Harris said.

“It’s tackle to tackle,” he added, referring to the excitement of fans when the big linebacker hits a running back hard.

A big part of Harris’ instant success, according to both the rookie linebacker and Mangini, is the presence of LB Eric Barton as a veteran linebacker in the 3-4 defense. Barton, according to Mangini, has co-captained with Harris in the defensive huddle, helping the Wolverine out by pointing out offensive shifts.

“Fortunately, with Eric Barton, Eric’s a really smart player, and Eric is the type of guy as a veteran guy that can help David with any of the adjustments and can make a lot of the adjustments himself,” Mangini said. “Having that player next to [Harris], that always is what you’d like to have, smart players working together.”

Harris also sang Barton’s praises, specifically pointed to Barton as the player who has been most crucial to his early success.

This weekend against the Redskins, Harris may be the key to a victory. QB Jason Campbell of the ‘Skins has had a great deal of trouble the past few weeks executing in the passing game, meaning RB Clinton Portis will shoulder the offensive load. As the team’s best run stopper and defensive leader, Harris will be called on to thwart the running game, forcing the ball into Campbell’s hand.

If Harris can step up in as clutch a way as he did against the Bills, New York may find themselves entering the bye week with a win.


Tensions cooled after practice scuffle

Yesterday’s altercation between FB Darian Barnes and DL Mike Devito has apparently resolved itself.

During tackling drills, Barnes lowered his head into Devito instead of attempting to avoid the defensive end, as specified by the guidelines of the drill. Devito hurt his shoulder on the play, and the rest of the defensive line confronted Barnes for hitting the rookie.

Barnes said that it was an oversight on his part, and that everything within the locker room is status quo.

“The idea of the drill is for the runners to try to make the [tackler] miss and avoid the guy,” Barnes said. “I hit him, and that’s not the drill, and the defense got upset—the idea is to take care of each other, keep everybody healthy.

“I lost sight of what the drill was, and I went to the D-Line and I apologized for it,” he added.

Family’s watching Devito

The fight yesterday as not the first time that Devito’s name entered headlines this week. On Sunday, Devito was activated for the first time, playing defensive end for a handful of plays against the Bills.

Devito said that after he heard a few hours before the game that he would be on the 45-man roster, he let everybody know.

“I was real excited, called everybody up really quick, told them to watch it, it was real great to finally get out there and show what I can do,” Devito said.

Mangini has hinted throughout the week that Devito may see his role increase as the weeks progress.

LC Update

Mangini refused to elaborate as to any additional findings regarding WR Laveranues Coles’ concussion. Coles did not participate in practice, and abided by team rules, refusing to make any mention as to the severity of the head injury.

WRs Jerricho Cotchery Justin McCareins will probably see an increased role this week assuming Coles does not play, which seems likely at this point.

Confident in Kellen

According to Mangini, QB Kellen Clemens stepped into the role as the team’s starting quarterback on the practice field Wednesday flawlessly—as expected.

“I thought [Pennington and Clemens] handled it great, and it went the way all practices go,” Mangini said. “That’s really what I anticipate; I guess I wasn’t really looking for anything but that.”

INJURY REPORT (as of 10/31/07)

New York Jets

Did Not Participate in Practice

WR Laveranues Coles (concussion)

Limited Participation in Practice

TE Chris Baker (back), DL Mike Devito (shoulder), DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)

Full Participation in Practice

DB Abram Elam (neck), DL C.J. Mosley (shoulder), QB Chad Pennington (ankle), DB Hank Poteat (chest), DB Eric Smith (thigh)

Washington Redskins


OL Randy Thomas (triceps)

Limited Participation in Practice

TE Todd Yoder (ankle)

Full Participation in Practice

EB Rock Cartwright (quad), CB Fred Smoot (hamstring)

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