Allen Park — When Charles Harris signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Detroit Lions last season, he had two thoughts.
The prevalent one was this could be more than a pitstop; Detroit could be the place where he gets his career on track and becomes part of the foundation that helps the franchise do the same.
But he also understood if things didn’t click in 2021, this could be it. Despite being just 26 years old, the league only has so much patience for potential before expecting production.
“It was in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t really something that worried me,” Harris said. “It didn’t really worry me, but it was more so I understand how the game works.”
A year later, Harris’ first instinct proved correct. The former first-round draft pick flourished in Detroit, tallying a career-high and team-high 7.5 sacks. It worked out well enough that the two sides came together on a new two-year, $14 million contract this week, which he officially signed on Friday.
Harris was all smiles meeting with the media after putting pen to paper. He said his heart was still racing, even though the free-agency process had been far less stressful this year than last.
“This year was a lot more peaceful,” Harris said. “I think that’s just a testament when you put in a lot of work, you have the assurance that the work has been done. It’s been put in. You gave everything you got every single game. Game in and game out, it came out. Going into the offseason this year, I was a little more rest assured. Yeah, there were other options, so to speak, obviously. But me and my agent, we made this a priority without a doubt to be here back in this organization, building and the uniform here with the Lions.”
Harris joins a growing list of recent additions eager to rave about the organization’s culture. He appreciates the consistency of the message from the top down and has the utmost respect for his position coach from last season, Kelvin Sheppard, a former player who Harris feels played a big role in unlocked his abilities.
Now that Harris has tasted some success, he’s hungry for more. As he describes it, he feels as if he now understands the game plan to achieve it and has been focusing his offseason workouts on repeating that process. Additionally, he’s looking to add a few pounds to his 250-pound frame as the team makes a schematic adjustment to playing more 4-3 fronts in 2022.
He’s also not shying away from the team adding more edge-rushing help via the draft. In fact, he welcomes it.
“Competition breeds greatness,” Harris said. “The best man plays. That’s how it is. .(We’re) all scratching for the No. 1 position, No. 2 position, whatever you want to call it. The best man is going to show up day in and day out, and that’s what you need to be great, every team.”
Whoever the Lions bring in, whatever schematic changes they make, Harris is thrilled to be a part of it.
“The foundation has been laid, and I think that’s been without a doubt,” he said. “You want to be part of something that’s being built rather than something that’s built, you walk in and just make your bed and lay down. You want to be a part of the base. You want to build something brick by brick, and sit back and look at your project. Just me personally, but I think that’s what the desire everyone has, is we want to see this thing come to light
“…We know the history of this team, we know the history of this city, and we’re tired of it,” Harris said. “We’re tired of the negative part of it. We’re trying to bring the positive.”
Coaching staff additions
The Lions announced the addition of three coaches to the team’s staff on Friday, senior offensive assistant John Morton, assistant defensive line coach Cameron Davis and defensive quality control coach Wayne Blair.
A Michigan native who played wide receiver at Western Michigan, Morton has 20 years of NFL experience, spending the last three with the Raiders as a senior offensive assistant. He’s also had stints with the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and USC, where he coordinated the Trojans offense from 2009-10
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