'Snacks' Harrison could be in Packers' lineup Sunday against Bears
GREEN BAY - Damon "Snacks" Harrison has landed in Green Bay.
The veteran defensive lineman the Packers claimed on waivers Wednesday was already with the team Thursday morning. Because Harrison had gone through the NFL's protocol for COVID-19 precautions, he was able to bypass the standard five-day waiting period before joining his new team.
Coach Matt LaFleur indicated Harrison could "potentially" play Sunday at the Chicago Bears.
"I think that's always hard to ask somebody," LaFleur said, "but then again you're dealing with a true pro, a vet that's been around and seen a lot, and it's just how fast can we get them acclimated to what we're trying to do and what we're asking him to do. But, like I said, we're just really happy to have him in the building."
LaFleur said he hadn't watched film of Harrison. The Packers spent Thursday morning in meetings before heading out to the practice field. But LaFleur believes Harrison's background might help him acclimate to his new team quicker than other players.
The Packers on Thursday announced the signing of Harrison and the release of defensive tackle Anthony Rush, who played only one snap for the team.
Harrison, at age 32, is in his ninth NFL season. He got his nickname as a result of his fondness for Rice Krispies treats during position meetings in his first season as an undrafted rookie with the New York Jets in 2012. The Packers are his fifth team. He joined the Packers at practice Thursday.
The Packers hope the 6-3, 350-pound Harrison will give them interior defensive line depth. Harrison has been especially effective as a run-stopping defensive lineman in his career. He was selected first-team All-Pro in 2016.
"Hopefully he can get acclimated pretty quickly," LaFleur said. "He seems like, what we've heard is he's a really intelligent guy. Obviously, he's got a lot of experience. So that usually expedites the learning curve for these guys. So he's going to be a guy where I think he can give us a lot in terms of playing the nose, and he's a really good run defender, and he has been for a really long time.
"I'm just excited to get him in the building."
It's unclear how big Harrison's role will be, but Kenny Clark might be the most affected by the veteran's arrival.
If Clark shares the field with Harrison, he might be able to move along the defensive line more frequently than he has in the past. That kind of flexibility could open things for him as a pass rusher. While Harrison is unlikely to play on passing downs, he might occupy more attention as a run defender on early downs.
The Packers could also use Harrison to rotate behind Clark, keeping their best defensive lineman fresh.
"I don't know how that's going to go," Clark said, "but just excited to find out and figure out what they've got planned, if they're going to move me around a little bit more or have him spell me or whatever. Yeah, but I'm excited to play with him and get a chance to learn from him."
Running back Jamaal Williams (thigh) was upgraded from limited to full participation, which is a sign he will return Sunday. Also, right tackle Rick Wagner (knee) was upgraded to a limited participant after missing Wednesday’s practice.
Defensive lineman Kingsley Keke missed another day with a concussion and tight end Jace Sternberger (concussion) practiced for a second straight day in limited fashion. Tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) was held out as is usually the case on Thursdays.
Good as new
Despite carrying the ball 21 times in his first extended action since missing five weeks with COVID-19, rookie running back AJ Dillon came through no worse for wear.
It’s kind of surprising given the way the 6-foot, 247-pound Dillon blasted into defenders all game long, including a goal-line play when he ran over 295-yard defensive tackle Matt Dickerson.
“No problems,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. “When we got back to practicing, I mean, he was going full speed. No more (soreness) than normal that you have as a running back.”
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One thing Sirmans is telling Dillon is that NFL teams will soon find out it’s not smart to try to tackle him up high and the best way is to go after his legs. Dillon has tree trunks for legs, but he’s going to have to get used to players trying to hit him at the knees.
“He’s a guy who’s able to give the hits,” Sirmans said. “Sometimes people don't want to come up and try to tackle him up top. I think the biggest thing that now he has put it on tape that he's going to have to probably be concerned with more, just like it was at (Boston College), is his guys hitting them low a lot more.
“But he’s not a guy who’s going to try to run into you all the time if he can help it.”