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For David Harris, It's Never About His Numbers

Posted Oct 10, 2013

David Harris, as the Jets' annual 100-tackle man and leading tackler, has had more than a few double-digit games in his seven-year Jets career. But it's been a while since he was as dominant and animated as he was in the win against the Falcons on Monday.

But Harris declines to get worked up about his game-high 14-tackle outing, which included all or parts of four tackles at or behind the line.

"Nobody on this defense is about individual stats," David told me today after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Everybody just comes out there and does his job and puts his piece into the puzzle. If everybody keeps putting in one more piece each day, we'll get closer to completion. We still have a long way to go, and hopefully we'll just keep getting better."

Quinton Coples, now a fellow linebacker partner, says Harris doesn't say a whole lot during a game, "so it's kind of like you expect him to be great." But "Q" has words of praise for the Hitman.

"I just think he's an overall great guy," Coples said. "He's the heart of our defense. He lets his work speak for itself. He's well-deserving of all the recognition he gets. The defense relies on him a lot — a lot — as far as personnel calls and stuff like that. You've got the coaches in the building but he's the coach out on the field and we appreciate it."

David Harris appreciates the praise but lets it all roll off his back. Some players mouth those platitudes about team before individual but David has lived that philosophy since before he arrived on the Jets as the second-round pick in 2007.

So it didn't mean a whole lot to him that his 14-tackle game at Atlanta was his most since he had a 15-tackle showing at New England in '09, or that his 3.0 tackles for loss/no gain were his most since a 3.5-tackle game at New Orleans earlier that season. In fact, Harris' tackle and TFLNG totals against the Falcons were both his most in a Jets victory in his career.

More important was that he and his defense and his team still aren't where they want to be.

"The defense was playing well, but we can always get better," he said. "We allowed too high a percentage on third down, we gave up way too many first downs, we didn't make the crucial stop when the team needed it. There's always room for improvement."

That's the best way for individual leaders and their teams to approach their seasons. This week it's not in any way about David Harris trying to equal or top one of the finest individual games of his career on Monday night.

"The guys in this locker room, we don't buy into all the up-and-down stories in the media," he said. "We just try to focus on this game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and what we can control."

Garrard Redux

As Eric Allen reported for us this morning, David Garrard is back on the Jets, but with a two-week roster exemption. The current Jacksonville resident and former Jaguars QB who left the Jets in the spring due to his aching knee, said that after a summer of rest and then a recent return to running, "my knee's been feeling great."

"I've been going out just about every other morning and running three miles on concrete and I really thought that would be the real test on if my knee would swell back up and get sore again. And it hasn't," he said.

After that, he said, his thinking then turned to "I don't want to turn 50 one day and look back and say, 'What if I just called somebody to say, "Hey, you know, if there's an opportunity, I'm really thinking about trying to get back." ' "

As Rex Ryan said, Garrard's roster exemption "is almost like a two-game trial. We'll see where he's at. ... Obviously with Mark [Sanchez] being out on IR, this is really more about let's see where David is, can he help our team or not."

Garrard said the help he's offering now is as an experienced mentor to Geno Smith and Matt Simms. (And maybe even Brady Quinn? But that's four QBs on the active roster again.)

"Geno has the job," he said. "If my number is ever called, I need to be ready for that. So my thing is to help these guys out and just be as much of a leader as I can in the locker room and as much of a mentor and leader as I can be in the quarterback room, because I was a rookie once and I know how it is."

Injury Update

The Jets' injury report flipped from Wednesday, when eight players didn't participate and three were limited. Today three players were DNPs — WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow (knee) and CB Dee Milliner (hamstring) — and eight were limited — T Oday Aboushi (knee), LB Quinton Coples (ankle), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip/knee), WR Clyde Gates (knee), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee), WR David Nelson (hamstring) and CB Darrin Walls (shoulder).
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