As Lions’ Duron Harmon ponders next move, he says ‘talent is there’ on defense

Detroit News

James Hawkins
| The Detroit News

This was a season of firsts for Lions safety Duron Harmon.

It was his first time playing anywhere other than New England. It was the first time he was a full-time starter. It was the first time he played on a defense that struggled. It was the first time he’s experienced a losing season in his eight-year career.

And all those firsts, Harmon said, provided plenty of lessons.

“Obviously, the season didn’t go the way we wanted it to from a competitive wins and losses standpoint, but I learned a lot from this year,” Harmon said Monday. “I had to look adversity in the eye and couldn’t run from it. I just had to keep going and I learned a lot about myself.”

After being drafted and playing on a Patriots team that won seven consecutive division titles and three Super Bowls since 2013, Harmon said this year with the Lions has been “tough” but taught him to not back down when the going got rough.

“You have to stare at it and you have to confront it,” Harmon said. “There were times this year where there was a lot that was different, it was a lot being in some situations and part of me wanted to be like, ‘Ah, man.’ But I didn’t.

“I kept finding new motivation. I kept pushing myself, pushing my teammates to keep fighting. That was very encouraging because I’ve never been in my professional career in a situation like this. It was new territory and I had to find ways to keep staying motivated and keep going.”

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Harmon was the lone defensive player to start all 16 games on a unit that was ravaged by injuries and set franchise marks for most points (519) and yards (6,978) allowed in a season.

He finished the year with a career-high 73 tackles to go along with five pass breakups and two interceptions. But looking back at his performance, Harmon noted he struggled at times when he was “trying to help too much.”

He added through the highs and lows of Detroit’s 5-11 campaign, there were some positives and negatives he’s looking to grow from.

“This is league is all about repetition, it’s all about learning from those negatives and not letting the negatives happen,” Harmon said. “That’s one thing that I can say I’ve done. I’ve gotten better. If something happened early in the year, I would correct it and I wouldn’t let it happen to me again. That’s one positive that I’ll take from this year.

“We have to take lessons from it, learn from it and just try to be better next year.”

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It remains to be seen where Harmon will play next year. After being acquired in a trade with the Patriots last offseason, he’s eligible to be an unrestricted free agent in March.

Harmon said he’s simply looking for a chance to play meaningful games in December and reach the playoffs again, and he’ll base his decision off who wants him.

If the Lions are among the suitors, Harmon said the franchise has several promising defensive pieces in place for next year, naming Romeo Okwara, Jamie Collins, Tracy Walker, Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Jahlani Tavai, Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara.

“The one thing I will say about Detroit is the talent is there,” Harmon said. “Obviously, injuries were tough on us this year, never had a fully healthy team. But (I’m looking for) a chance to win and Detroit has a very, very talented roster with a lot of good players. We’ll see.”

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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