David Harris, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native and University of Michigan product, missed the week's first practice today leading up to the Jets' Week 9 matchup against the Detroit Lions. While head coach Rex Ryan did not go into detail about the extent of the back injury that "the Hitman" suffered while weightlifting this morning, he did not suggest that it was severe.
"His back wasn't feeling good," Ryan said, "so we just kept him out."
During the afternoon practice linebacker Bart Scott moved over to Harris' usual MLB position while Lance Laury, fifth-year veteran and special teams ace, and first-year player Josh Mauga rotated into Scott's Will linebacker spot.
Laury, a Seattle Seahawk until being acquired by the Jets this offseason, thought Mauga would be the one to fill in if needed Sunday but was intrigued by the possibility that he could make his first NFL start.
"It would be very exciting," Laury said. "I'd treat it like any other game. I take every game seriously. I play every game like you never know when it's your last game and so I go out and do what I have to do and just work hard."
Mauga believed that Harris would be back and ready for Sunday's game, but in the chance that the injury gets worse during the week, the Nevada standout is happy that he could slide right in. After spending last season on injured reserve and missing the majority of training camp this season, the 2009 undrafted free agent finally saw his first game action during Sunday's 9-0 loss to the Packers.
"Especially last week being my first game ever playing," Mauga said. "And then this week if I get the start then that'd be another exciting moment. I just have to be able to stay on top of my keys and take advantage of the opportunity."
Although Mauga didn't make an appearance on the stat sheet during the Jets' loss, the 6'1", 245-pounder believes he can build on his first ever outing in an NFL uniform. Last week he was anxious and a little worried about how he would fare in his first professional action, but it turned out to be less intimidating than he expected, thanks in part to his weekly meetings with linebackers coach Bob Sutton.
"It went OK," Mauga said. "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I still have some work to do. I just have to level out some kinks and I'll be all right."
While it would be a good story to see either young inside linebacker make his first pro start, the Jets and Harris, who leads the defense with 58 tackles and got his first sack of the season Sunday, will do everything possible to have him back in uniform before the team travels to his home state to face the Lions.