It was a relatively uneventful second day of training camp practice for David Harris, but so it's been for the seventh-year linebacker out of Michigan they call "Hitman." Without all of the flare and the loud antics we were accustomed to from former teammate Bart Scott, Harris has quickly become one of the more effective linebackers in the NFL.
Quiet in nature and stoic in poise, Harris talks softly but puts up numbers that are anything but. Last year marked his fifth season with over 100 tackles. He racked up 123 in 16 games, his highest total since 2009. Never one to brag about his statistics, Harris is readying himself to lead a linebacking corps also featuring returning veteran Calvin Pace and second-year man Demario Davis, who is set to take on a bigger role this season after starting only three games in 2012.
Harris was asked how the linebackers were performing so far at SUNY Cortland.
"It's coming together well," he said. "I give all the credit to coach Brian VanGorder. He's a wonderful coach who's been doing it for a long time at this level. He doesn't let anything get swept under the rug and I think that's a good way to coach because it's easy to get complacent on this level. We're a tight-knit group. We always go out to lunch together, we hang out together. We have a great group of guys."
Rex Ryan has said he is going to take a more hands-on approach with the defense this season after the Jets struggled last year to keep teams out of the end zone. Harris was asked about his head coach's role on his side of the ball.
"I wouldn't say it's going to be a huge difference, but you'll be able to notice it. It's pretty much the same defense from the last five years, but I think we're going to be a little bit more aggressive," he said. "This is Rex's defense. He knows it, and nobody knows it better than him. He's going to teach it; make sure everybody knows it from the top guy to the last man that's signed."
Harris has had to fight his natural instincts to tackle anything that moves through these first two days at training camp, forced to pull up before he plants another ballcarrier into the grass, something he has done more than any teammate during his tenure with the Green & White.
That all changes Sunday as the team suits up in full pads for the remainder of training camp, unleashing the likes of David Harris on a Jets offense trying to find its stride.
"Tomorrow we put the pads on, and that's when it gets real," he said. "We're itching, definitely. There have been a couple of scuffles out here, tempers are heating up. But we'll see what happens tomorrow."