Damon Harrison was added to the Detroit Lions halfway through last season, and made an immediate impact. Now, with Harrison perhaps wanting to stay long term in Detroit on a new deal, he hasn’t shown up for the first voluntary portion of the team’s workout period.
According to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Harrison has been absent from the start of Detroit’s offseason program this week. Here’s a look at what Meinke wrote on the matter:
“Snacks Harrison wants a new contract. And so far, he hasn’t shown up for the start of the Detroit Lions’ offseason conditioning program according to multiple sources.
Harrison hasn’t spoken directly on the matter, so it’s impossible to say definitively whether the former is a motivation for the latter, nor when he intends to report. These workouts are voluntary after all, and so are OTAs after that. The only portion of the offseason program that’s mandatory is minicamp, which opens on June 4.”
So far, Harrison has been one of the team’s only notable absences from the start of the workout period other than the uncertainty with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is dealing with the very personal matter of his wife’s brain surgery at the moment. A few months back, it was reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that Harrison’s representatives could be eying a new deal in Detroit, but there has been no movement on that front, and might not figure to be until later this offseason according to Bob Quinn.
As Meinke correctly points out, everything to this point on the NFL calendar is voluntary until June 4, so that date could be a better gage of where things are at with Harrison if there is still no movement on a potential extension. He does have two years left on his current deal.
Harrison was a dominating force up front for the Lions in 2018, and that led him to being named the PFF run stuffer of the year while making a great impression on his Detroit team. It lends to the hope that the Lions have figured things out more than a bit up front with Harrison in the fold for 2019 and beyond. That should be a huge boost to the group after some of their weaknesses last year, and it could also help Harrison to stick around long term, too.
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The Lions made a big move to go out and get Harrison a few months back, and while they were not able to win their first game with the defensive tackle on the field, that did not diminish the impact Harrison was able to make for his new team just one week and barely any snaps into his Lions tenure. Harrison came into the game and immediately made his presence felt, racking up seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. It was a huge debut for Harrison the likes of which had not been seen in Lions history from his position on the field, and that makes for excitement in the coming years as the team gets their elite player more comfortable.
The Lions had one major defensive weakness last season, and it’s been the ability to stop the run. Most of the offseason, they spent time upgrading their linebacking group in addition to having one of the most solid secondaries in the game. But their major problem has been interior defense, and a guy like Harrison fits them like a glove for this exact reason. Detroit has been victimized by long runs this season from the middle of the defense, and Harrison is a guy who can powerfully clog those lanes in Matt Patricia’s defense, in hope making the entire group just a little bit better. So far, he’s done that in a big way and the team looks for him to do even more in 2019, Pro Bowl or not in 2020.
So far, so good, as the team’s run defense has gotten better since Harrison come into the fold. And even though Harrison didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season, it’s tough to understate how important he has been for the Lions’ defense since coming to the team, too.
With names like Da’Shawn Hand, A’Shawn Robinson and Harrison together, Lions fans should be thrilled about the direction their defensive front is trending. And it’s safe to say Harrison changed the group as a whole himself. One day soon, that could lead him to a new contract in the Motor City.