It's not the boisterous and brash talk that fans are accustomed to hearing from the New York Jets, but linebacker David Harris has mastered the art of quiet leadership. After critics laced into the six-year verteran for carrying some extra weight last season, Harris dropped about 15 pounds in advance of this year's training camp. Head coach Rex Ryan is thrilled with the leaner and meaner version of his prized middle linebacker.
"I'm spreading the rumor he's on the lap band, but I'm not sure he was, joke Ryan. "No, he looks outstanding. He is quick, and I think we all took it personal. We never played to our expectations, and so every one of us is like, no, no, I'm going to be at my very best, and that's what I think you see in David (Harris). He proves it by the shape that he came in, and the way he's leading this team."
Several NFL analysts pointed out that Harris looked a step slow last season and was unable to shed blockers and work his way into the offensive backfield like he had in years past. It's safe to say that the 2012 regular season was one to forget for Harris and No. 52 appears ready to turn the page to 2013.
"We're past that already, noted Harris. "It's a new team, a new year. Of course we learned from the things we did last year, but it's a new year and we have to look forward."
2013 training camp has ushered in a bevy of changes for Gang Green. One of the team's most vocal leaders, Bart Scott, is currently unsigned and not expected back with the team. Harris has noticed Scott's absence from training camp, but appears ready to fill the leadership role he left behind.
"I'm just so used to playing next to Bart," admitted Harris . "He's always off running his mouth and being Bart, everybody knows that. But everybody's career comes to an end at some point and unfortunately he's not here anymore."
While Scott was undoubtedly the Jets' emotional leader, Darrelle Revis' departure was not an easy one for his former teammates or fans to live with. The Jets drafted Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner to fill No. 24 huge shoes, and it appears Harris and company are ready to move on from this summer's blockbuster trade.
"He's a great player, noted Harris. "Everybody knows that. He was a great teammate, a great Jet, but he's not here anymore. (Antonio) Cromartie stepped up to be that guy for us and now we're going to need Kyle (Wilson) to step up next to Cro or Dee Milliner when he gets here, but we're going to do fine, just great."
The Jets finished their second day of practice on Saturday and Harris is chomping on the bit to get in pads and start getting some smash mouth football underway in Cortland, N.Y.
"It was good, it was very competitive," noted Harris. "Both sides made plays. Everybody looked quick, fast and sharp out there, but that's nothing. Tomorrow we put the pads on and that's when it gets real. We're itching, we're itching. There's been a couple scuffles out here, tempers starting to flare already. We put the pads on tomorrow, so we'll see – we're going to find out."