Amidst talk of James Houston breakout, Lions’ Charles Harris still ‘the starter’

Detroit News

Allen Park — Amidst all the talk about the young Detroit Lions’ defense turning the corner, Dan Campbell wants to remind you about someone.

His name is Charles Harris.

“Charles is really the starter right now. … Let’s not forget about Charles,” Campbell said.

Harris, 28, is entering his third season with the Lions. This time last year, possibilities were endless — the former first-round pick was hoping to continue building off a 2021 season that saw him record a career-high in sacks (7.5), tackles (65), forced fumbles (two), tackles-for-loss (10) and quarterback pressures (52).

But injuries limited Harris to just six starts over the last season, paving the way for James Houston to explode onto the scene with his highly productive rookie year. In answering a question about Houston, Campbell felt the need to clarify: Harris is still the starter at one of the outside linebacker positions.

“He’s coming off the injury. We lost him last year. I mean, this guy’s a man on a mission,” Campbell said. “He’s another guy I can’t wait as we go through camp, because you can tell he’s ready. He’s been going now, so it’s good to have him back, too.”

Harris is hoping his offseason work will help him return to form.

“Just working on my body, doing extra … strength and extra recovery, different modalities and things like that,” Harris said. “Just grateful to be back. Grateful to be back playing and out here with the guys. It sucks whenever you have a season-ending injury for anybody. It’s always tough. We stay mentally strong and that mentally carried over to this year.

“I’m ready to hit the field running.”

The fact there’s even a discussion about who will be starting at outside linebacker seems an indication that this roster is far ahead of where it was previously.

Harris is excited about the depth that his room can currently provide.

“You get late into the saeson, you need everybody,” he said. “I mean, every game, you need everyone. But obviously, later in the season, definitely (that will help). We don’t want no drop off on defense. Just the same as offense. It’s always great to have guys who are legit starters in their own right. I think our ones through threes could be legitimate starters across the league.

“It’s always special. It’s always great to see.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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