Early in his NFL career, New York Jets linebacker David Harris was an unsung Pro Bowl-caliber player. He never heard his name called when those rosters came out, though he was named a second-team All-Pro once.
After four strong seasons to begin his career, Harris was rewarded with a long-term contract in 2011, very well-deserved at the time. Unfortunately, the 2012 season did not go nearly as smoothly for Harris or his team.
With nagging injuries to fellow linebacker Bart Scott as well as nose tackle Sione Pouha, Harris struggled mightily for the first time in his career, and the Jets’ linebacking corps as a unit played pretty poorly overall.
This year, Pouha and Scott are gone, and younger players are being counted on to step up. But even with an infusion of youth and athleticism, the Jets defense cannot reach its full potential without a big season from Harris.
Now 29-years-old and entering his seventh season, Harris is the guy who has to make it happen. He needs to lead by example so that guys like Demario Davis can learn what it takes to be a three-down linebacker.
If Harris does not have a strong bounce-back season in 2013, he could be in danger of being a cap casualty at seasons end. Rookie GM John Idzik won’t hesitate to shake things up if he believes it will make the team better.
However, with the youth movement on defense, Harris is a guy that many look to as a leader. It’s absolutely critical for Harris to rebound back to the high-level of play that the Jets have been accustomed to seeing.
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