Detroit Lions' Damon Harrison feasts in debut — and should get better

Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press
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There are times after losses, especially Detroit Lions losses, that things are a little uncomfortable in the locker room.

Speaking with Damon Harrison after the Lions’ 28-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was one of those times.

The run-stuffing nose tackle was acquired by the Lions in a midweek trade with the New York Giants wasn’t surly or rude or unprofessional or unhelpful. In fact, it was the opposite.

Damon Harrison during the fourth quarter Sunday against Seattle at Ford Field.

Harrison dressed quickly and patiently answered every question during a three-minute interview. “We’re good?” he asked. “Thank you.” Then he stuck around for overtime and answered one more question from a late-arriving television reporter.

But Harrison clearly wasn’t happy. His common refrain when asked to assess his debut: “I didn’t play well enough for us to win.”

I disagree. Harrison was good. In fact, very good. Without the benefit of film review, my Free Press colleague Dave Birkett and I agree we would both grade Harrison in the B-plus, A-minus range.

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Damon Harrison sacks Russell Wilson during the fourth quarter.

Harrison had seven solo tackles, including a sack and two tackles for loss. Midway through the third quarter, Seattle led 21-7, when Harrison stopped Chris Carson on a third down at the goal line. wrote Harrison was “unbelievable,” virtually unblockable and only dinged him for not playing cornerback better.

Yet, there he was. Unhappy. After a good game with two days of practice with his new team.

“I don’t believe in small wins,” he said.

Listen. I’ve seen a lot of fake posturing in locker rooms in my career. A guy plays well, but his team loses, so he has to pretend he’s taking it hard. That wasn’t the case with Harrison. The Seahawks still found a way around the 6-foot-3, 353-pound mountain. They had 95 rushing yards at halftime and 176 for the game.

“Yeah, because it opens up so much other things in the offensive playbook,” Harrison said of Seattle’s effectiveness in the run. “And if we can’t stop the run first and foremost, as you can see, you’ll be in for a long day.”

So here’s the good news. Harrison was good, and he’s only going to get better.

“He helped us,” Lions defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. “He gave us some of his knowledge. We have to start learning how to play off of him. It’s going to become real (important) to learn how to play off of him.

“But even for his first game, he did good. But I know there’s places that he’s going to say that he can improve and he can get better at. That’s just being an All-Pro. He’s going to get better as the year goes on.”

Here’s the even better news. Harrison isn’t wasting any time. He refused to quantify how much of the playbook he has learned.

“Yeah, it’s only been a few days,” he said, “so I still have a lot to learn and I’ll be back in the lab tomorrow.

Then, the man they call "Snacks" remembered his voracious appetite.

“Actually,” he said, “tonight trying to get up to speed.”

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