Harris Excited for '04

Last season Orien Harris recorded 39 tackles with four sacks and 18 quarterback hurries. He played in 11 games starting in 10 of them. This year Harris is excited for the defensive line and he thinks they have a chance to be real special in 2004. "Workouts have been going real good," he said. "I feel good. I have lost a little bit of weight."

"I am at 300 right now and I might play at about 305 in the fall. Coach Swasey has been working us real hard. I've been doing real well and my strength has been going up. I am just real excited with spring ball here."

Harris had arthroscopic surgery on his knee after a cheap shot by Virginia Tech lineman, Jake Grove. Harris missed the next two games. He also suffered an elbow injury in the Orange Bowl, but feels fine now.

"I haven't got a chance because of my elbow injury so I have been trying to strengthen my arm. It is doing real good. I am 100% right now and I am thankful for that. I am playing all spring."

There are a lot of guys competing for playing time at defensive tackle. Harris, Santonio Thomas, and Kareem Brown figure to have a three-man rotation at defensive tackle. Dave Howell is another guy that could be in the mix as well. With Wilfork gone there is more pressure on the defensive tackles this year, but Harris doesn't see it that way.

"I don't see it as anything different from last year. I feel like we have the potential to be real good this year. Vince is gone and I'll miss him, but I like the guys we have here. "Kareem is doing real good. He has gotten a lot stronger and faster. He is real excited about spring ball as well. I am eager to see how he is going to do this season."

There are 12 defensive linemen back from last year and a lot of guys received a good amount of playing time. Harris is extremely excited about the potential of the defensive line.

"Everybody is working real hard and I am real excited about our line this year. We have Baraka back, Javon, and Bryan Pata. I think we will be real special when fall comes around. Right now we are just excited with spring ball started. We have a lot of defensive ends back and they were real good last year. We have a couple younger defensive ends doing well also. Everyone got experience last year and we just have a chance to be real special this year. Everyone can make plays."

On defense the Hurricanes return just four starters, but Harris thinks the defense will be just fine.

"I think we will have a lot of great players, but at the same time we have a lot of young players. I think everybody is going to step up. Leon, Tavares Gooden, Brandon Meriweather, Greg Threat. They worked real hard in the off-season and are ready to play."

Going up against a stellar offensive line during practice helps Harris and his teammates get better. It brings out the best in them and good competition is always welcomed.

"The offensive line is going to be good this year. They have a lot of guys back and should be a dominant force this year. I think teams are worried about them. We complement each other pretty well. We don't take it easy on each other and we make each other better."

Despite having a solid season a year ago Harris can still find flaws in his game. He wants to follow in his brother Kwame's footsteps who was a first-round pick in 2003 by San Francisco.

"I want to be able to read the blocks a bit better and work on my technique a little bit better. There are a lot of things I need to work on to be the player that I am trying to be."

Harris looks forward to the start of the '04 season.

"I am real excited. I can't wait to put the pads on again."

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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