The Jets moved up in the second round of last April's draft to snag Harris with the 47th overall pick. The stout linebacker is a prototypical 3-4 inside linebacker, a big bodied run stuffer that fits the Mangini system perfectly.
Harris has performed well thus far, and has seen his playing time increase in recent weeks. However, Mangini relies heavily on the inside linebacker to handle the defensive signal-calling responsibilities and although the rookie linebacker handled this role while at Michigan, it is a duty he is yet to experience as a pro. However, it is a contingency that the team has prepared for.
"One of the things we did in training camp, and one of the things we believe in, we put a lot of different people in," Mangini said on Thursday. "Jon (Vilma)'s a guy that historically doesn't miss much time, so he's usually calling the signals. That's why it's so important to get different voices in there and work in different combinations of people because you never know when you may have a guy missing time during the game or whatever the case may be."
Harris feels he's prepared for the challenge.
"You have to be ready when your number is called," Harris said when asked about his preparation. "This is football and anything can happen. Injuries happen. It changes from week-to-week, so you try to go in and be ready."
Since taking the reins, the Mangini regime has put a premium on character and mental prowess. In this regard, Harris seems to fit the mold perfectly. Since early summer, he has impressed the coaching staff with his strong work ethic and diligent approach to game.
This weekend, he will get his first taste of sustained playing time, and the chance to prove that the team made the right choice by moving up to select him.