Run defense gets boost with Damon Harrison's return

Posted Aug 2, 2016

DT Damon Harrison was taken off the PUP list Tuesday and joined the Giants at practice: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Defensive tackle Damon Harrison and shoulder pads both debuted in practice today as the Giants ramped up the intensity at training camp.

Harrison, one of the high-profile free agents signed to upgrade the defense, had missed the first three practices because he was on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list with swelling in his knee. But he passed his physical this morning and was on the field for the first pads practice of camp.


“Great to have Snacks back,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “We had to yank him out of some drills, he was chomping at the bit to get going. Jumped right back in there, seems to be in pretty good shape.”

Snacks would like to have taken more snaps, but he understands it’s not a good idea to overload him now. And the work he got was infinitely better than rehabbing inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

“I knew the plan that they had for me,” Harrison said. “But I love the game, so it was hard to just sit around and watch. When I was on PUP I couldn’t really go outside. I wanted to go out there and be with my teammates. But Hank (Johnathan Hankins) and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), they give me a little crap every day about not being there. So it was good to be back today.”

Harrison and Hankins will give the Giants a formidable run-stopping duo in the middle of the defensive line. Each of them enjoyed a return of sorts today. Hankins worked for the first time in shoulder pads since suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle at Tampa Bay last Nov. 8.

“It was good,” Hankins said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on the field, because I got hurt last year. It was nice to have the pads on. Really excited, looking forward to the next day.”

So are the rest of the linemen. Like their teammates, they are not permitted to wear pads during the spring. But that is far less significant for the players who run, catch and throw. The linemen want to put on the equipment and hit people. Today, finally, they got to do that, and the intensity was definitely raised several degrees in the trenches.

“You just got a sneak peak of the front line,” Pierre-Paul said. “The fans that were there, I hope they enjoyed it, there’s going to be more coming.

“It went pretty fast. It was a different feeling. We have a different way of doing 9-on-7 (run blocking/defense drill). I’m loving it. The run game, we had to test what we call the slot, and I think we played pretty well with me and Snacks on that side.”


Of course, the offensive linemen also benefitted from a practice that more closely simulated a game.

“It’s good when we finally get to put the pads on,” guard Justin Pugh said. “There’s not as much holding going on. Getting out there and really hitting felt good today. A lot of things still have to be worked on, especially getting lower. The first day with pads, everyone is always a little high. But it was a good first day.”

The offensive and defensive linemen have a friendly but spirited competition throughout camp that gets ratcheted up when the pads come on. The increased intensity is welcome on both sides.

“Guys bull their necks,” tackle Marshall Newhouse said. “This is the time we get to hit. We’ve been frustrated with each other all spring, and it’s the time to do that  - obviously within reason, because we have to play and we’re going to be teammates come September. But this is how we’re going to get better by pushing each other and hitting each other. That’s why it’s a big day. Being able to get physical, to hit and knock some cobwebs out. It’s definitely not something you can maintain the entire year, so it’s how we build back into getting into our football shape and our readiness for the season.”

“There’s definitely some mixed feelings out there between the O-line and the D-line,” Hankins said. “But it’s all for the love and just trying to get each other better.”

Harrison has a little catching up to do in that regard, but he should soon be level with his fellow linemen.

“Just seeing him, he’s in great shape,” JPP said. “I thought he was going to be out of shape. We joke around about that, but he was in great shape today, so that’s a plus. Just watching guys like Snacks and Hank play the run, he was on my side, so I’m loving it.”

Harrison was happy to test his technique against center Weston Richburg and guards John Jerry and Pugh.

“Rich is a great young center,” Harrison said. “He’s really underrated in this league. He’s quick and it being my first day back, I told him he got the best of me today. He had some help, though, it wasn’t just him by himself. It was 77 (Jerry) and Pugh helping him but he’s good, he’s going to be good and I’m going to be good for him along with everybody on the line. It’s exciting.”