FOXBORO, Mass. — Former New York Jets linebacker David Harris has played just seven defensive snaps with the New England Patriots this season, leading many to understandably wonder why he’s still on the team.
Harris doesn’t have a role on special teams, has been a healthy scratch once and didn’t find his way onto the field in another game despite being active. Everyone within the Patriots has high praise for Harris, however, and that starts with head coach Bill Belichick.
“David’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, works hard, smart player, great kid,” Belichick said on a conference call with the New York media Wednesday.
Belichick gives vague answers when asked about Harris’ playing time. In that same conference call, he referred to it as “a week-to-week thing with us” and closed with “we’ll see how it goes.” That seems to imply Harris eventually will play more with his new team. But for now, he seems to be stuck behind Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Marquis Flowers on the Patriots’ linebacker depth chart. He could get pushed down even further if Shea McClellin is activated off injured reserve.
Perhaps the Patriots are waiting to play against a run-heavy offense without a scrambling quarterback. The Denver Broncos, who the Patriots play in Week 9, fit that bill.
Harris signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract with the Patriots this offseason that includes $1.25 million guaranteed. So no one expected Harris to play so sporadically if he was going to make the roster.
Still, Harris described his time so far in New England with exuberant praise.
“It’s been amazing just seeing how everything works here and how everybody works hard,” Harris said. “Everybody’s dedicated to winning. Just, you always heard everything about the Patriots from the outside, but it’s actually a lot different once you’re actually here and part of it. The attention to detail is amazing here, and I appreciate it.”
Harris had a good attitude about his lack of playing time, praising his teammates by saying “the guys are playing very well, and I hope they continue to play well.”
“I’m trying to do everything I’m asked to do,” Harris added. “I’m trying to be ready if my number’s called. That’s all I can do as a professional player.”
Hightower believes Harris will be able to step up if that No. 45 is called. The Patriots captain also was highly complimentary of the approach Harris is taking despite his lack of snaps.
“I think that says a lot about him,” Hightower said. “Not just as a football player but as a person, as well. You can take it as younger guys trying to take food out of his kid’s mouth or whatever, but David doesn’t see it as that. He’s taking it as a Patriot. He’s taking it for what it is and what it’s worth. It’s a long season. You never know what’s going to happen or when his number is going to be called.
“One thing is for certain, that whenever his number is called, David is going to be ready. It’s not going to be ‘can he still do it?’ or ‘is he capable of doing it?’ I mean, everything’s there. He’s definitely keeping a positive mindset and I know myself and a lot of the younger guys appreciate what he does and what he brings to this team.”
Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN