Jonotthan Harrison’s season has been a microcosm of the Jets’ campaign — up and down.
Throughout the spring, Harrison was slated to be the starter at center in Adam Gase’s offense. Then the Jets signed C Ryan Kalil in August, forcing Harrison to take a back seat. However, the sixth-year pro has played in each of the past two games and could start Sunday as Kalil has not practiced this week with elbow and knee ailments.
“It’s been one hell of a roller coaster,” Harrison said. “Whether it was the ups of potentially being the guy in the spot to the downs of a curveball like what happened. Then up again because Ryan and I actually hit it off really well and we have a good connection going, and then down because of what our quarterback went through. It’s just been a rush of emotions.
“It’s one of those years that every day you have to wake up and attack the day. You can’t just roll out of bed and be like, ‘Oh, man. It’s another day at work.’ You really have to wake up and tell yourself you’re going to attack the day no matter what. We’re not where we want to be right now, but we have no choice but to attack the day.”
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Harrison was understandably a little disappointed when the Green & White signed Kalil because he was ready to be the opening-day starter for the first time in his career. The 2014 undrafted free agent was praised for his professionalism by Gase, GM Joe Douglas and his teammates, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy pill to swallow.
“There were definitely the days that you felt frustrated, but whether it was somebody I talked to or the voice in my head, I’m like, ‘I have to keep focused, stay true to the task and this is just another stepping stone in my career, another learning curve,’ ” Harrison said. “It was a very strange situation, but when I first met Ryan, he was like, ‘Hey, man. I know this is super awkward. I’ve heard great things about you. Look at it this way, I might’ve just added another year to your career and your longevity in the NFL.’ That’s actually a really positive way to look at it.”
The 6’4”, 330-pound Harrison, who went to high school about three hours north of Hard Rock Stadium and attended the University of Florida, could start his first game of the season Sunday against the Dolphins with family and friends in attendance.
“If the opportunity presents itself, of course. It’s exciting for anyone to play in the NFL no matter the circumstance,” he said. “It would be exciting to get in there, get my jersey a little dirty, put my hands on somebody.”
Sunday’s game could have a bit of déjà vu for Harrison, who played the second half against the Dolphins last year in South Florida, which also came in Week 9. Harrison played the final four games with QB Sam Darnold in 2018 and feels he’s done a good job with limited reps this season. While the offensive line has had its fair share of issues between injuries and sacks allowed (34, T-32 in NFL), Harrison wants to over-emphasize communication against the ‘Fins.
“Their defense isn’t just a vanilla defense,” he said. “They move guys around to try and create confusion, so we just need to make sure that everybody — quarterback, tight end, offensive line, running back and sometimes receivers — is on the same page communication wise. As long as all of us are on the same page, firing on all cylinders, we should be good to go.”