Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez discuss the Detroit Lions’ trade for Damon Harrison on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in Allen Park.
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
Damon Harrison was not on the field for the start of Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, and that was good news to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
“Yeah, I was hoping he’s going to take his time getting there,” Carroll said in a conference call with Detroit reporters. “Maybe even drive or something, get there on Saturday or whatever. That’s the best thing that’ll happen for us, if he arrives maybe on Saturday.”
The Lions and New York Giants are working through final details of a trade that will send Harrison to Detroit for a 2019 fifth-round pick, and for now it remains unclear how soon Harrison will see the field.
The Lions have two more practices this week, Thursday and Friday, plus a Saturday walk-through, to get ready for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, and Lions coach Matt Patricia said there’s no telling how long it could take a new defensive tackle to learn his scheme.
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“It just depends on whoever it is,” Patricia said, speaking in general terms. “We’ve had some guys here who have been working for a while and guys that are continuing to improve every single day. Look, at this point, we’re just trying to go out and get better. We don’t have a lot of time for fundamentals and technique, like we did during training camp, so we try to get caught up as much as we can whenever we can in those situations.”
Harrison is a monster run defender at 355 pounds who’s the spent the last 2.5 seasons starring in a defense not too dissimilar from the one he’ll play in, in Detroit.
The Lions already have two former Giants playing key roles on defense, edge defenders Devon Kennard and Romeo Okwara, who’ve combined for nine of the team’s 21 sacks, and Harrison will play primarily as a run-down defender from the nose tackle position.
Kennard, the Lions’ top free-agent addition of the offseason, has started every game at strong-side linebacker this year, while Okwara did not play in Week 1 loss to the New York Jets after the Lions claimed him on waivers from the Giants.
If Harrison can play Sunday, he should have an immediate impact on a Lions defense that ranks 30th in the league against the run.
The Seahawks (3-3) have one of the NFL’s most run-oriented offenses, Their 30 carries a game are more than every team but the Rams, and they currently rank seventh in the league in rushing at 127.8 yards per game.
Harrison has played twice against Carroll-coached teams in his career, once as a rookie with the New York Jets when he barely saw the field, and again last season, when he had seven tackles in a 24-7 loss.
Harrison had one tackle for loss in that game, and Carroll said he’s a disruptive presence on the interior.
“Snacks has been a big-timer for a long time,” Carroll said. “We caught him back in the Jets days when he kind of was unheralded and he kind of came to the surface as a playmaker. And of course he went to the Giants and he carries his own there. He’s a good football player, big presence. Really good in the run game, disruptive in pass rush, too, so it’s a great get for them.”
Harrison should help the Lions not only this year but in coming seasons as well. He’s signed for the next two years at salaries of $6.75 million in 2019 and $9 million in 2020, and his addition means the Lions don’t have to prioritize a defensive tackle in free agency or the draft next spring.
The Lions currently have eight picks in next April’s draft, with choices single choices in the first, second, fourth and fifth rounds, and multiple picks in the sixth and seventh rounds they acquired in trades from the New England Patriots (for Johnson Bademosi) and Miami Dolphins (Akeem Spence).
A quick primer on the newest Detroit Lions defensive lineman, Damon Harrison.
Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
They used their third-round pick for next year to trade up and draft Alabama rookie Da’Shawn Hand, and it’s unclear which fifth-round pick they’ll convey to the Giants in Wednesday’s trade.
The Lions started the day with an extra fifth-rounder they acquired from the San Francisco 49ers in a trade for guard Laken Tomlinson last summer.
Contact Dave Birkett: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!