DT Damon Harrison
July 27, 2017
Q: What makes you think this can be a better team than last year?
A: Because we all improved, whether it be all the new guys we brought in, all the guys that we have coming back, and we have a lot of guys coming back from last year. The mission is still the same, just to be better.
Q: Expectations are pretty high, that this team could be a Super Bowl contender. Are the expectations here the same?
A: We don't come here just to be subpar, we come here to perform at our highest level. If everybody does that, then I'm sure we'll win some games. But as far as predicting wins and losses and, you know, Super Bowls or bust, I don't think anyone is here for that.
Q: How much more pressure do guys feel from that, though? Expectations from the outside are bigger than they were last year.
A: Well it's just like you said. It's outside expectations. One percent a day, man, get better one percent a day. That's why I wore this shirt. I had on my "Snacks" shirt but I came in here with this shirt because that's our theme for this year. We can't do anything about the end of the year. We can't get to January unless we take care of this week first.
Q: Is it hard to balance flushing what happened last year with keeping some of that and using it for motivation?
A: No, because I think everybody in the locker room has experienced winning at some point and losing at some point. It's a fine line, a thin line, between both, so you have to be able to wipe away the year before. Whether it be if you guys did good or bad and just never think that you got everything figured out.
Q: How excited are you to put the pads on alongside some of the defensive line newcomers, namely second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson?
A: Very excited, man. I'm not a spring guy, you know, I can't do anything in the spring. I'm not a finesse player, I'm physical, man. Like I said in my interview on Hot 97, I'm here to put paws on people and go home, so I can't do that in the spring. When you get out here into training camp, this is what I'm made for.
Q: What did you see from Dalvin this spring?
A: Oh, smart, smart. The very first thing that pops out at you. And that's a lot of rookies [not just] quarterbacks, that's one of the things you don't really notice. But he got coached by my former coach, the one who taught me everything I know. Karl Dunbar. So I can see that helped him along the way. I see everything that Coach Dunbar taught me. Dalvin is picking up the same things.
Q: One of the few losses on defense, though, was Hank (Jonathan Hankins) this offseason. How hard is that for you guys to replicate and replace?
A: Well, you can't. Hank was a special player. He did so many great things for the defense, man, not only on the field but off the field as well. So, I don't think that's something you can try to replace, but we bring in a Dalvin Tomlinson, a Jay Bromley, a Robert Thomas, a Corbin Bryant, guys like that who can excel in that role and I tell them all the time, 'Don't be like Hank, be yourself.'
Q: What do you view as that role?
A: You have to talk to the coach about that individually. That's why I go in every year and talk to the coaches and ask them, 'What's your vision for me for the year?' So, there's no in-between, I know exactly what I'm doing.
Q: What is your role?
A: Stop the run, man, on early downs. That's what I'm here for. Provide a little push in the pocket and then if they need me on third downs, to do that. So, that's how I base my year, based on the conversations with the coach.
Q: You said that you wipe away the slate from last year. What do you carry over, though, and try to bring forward?
A: Everything you did wrong the year before.
Q: Everything wrong?
A: Yeah. I mean, if you did anything good the year before, then I'm sure it became a habit. Consistency is everything in this league, so to be consistently doing something good, you can try to get better at it the next year, but you got to focus on everything you did wrong. Like I didn't have many sacks last year. I'm working my butt of this offseason, or I have been, so moving forward I change that. So if you ask me one thing that I've taking from last year, I didn't have any sacks.
Q: Do you have a goal for how many sacks you'd like for this year?
A: No sir, no sir. I have a number in mind, but I don't want to share that number.
Q: A couple digits?
A: No man, but I'm going break Jared Allen's record, right? (Laughs)
Q: How do you get better at sacks? Is that a strength thing or speed thing?
A: A combination of all of that. Also not being scared. I don't want to say I played scared, but I try to dominate in the run game so much that I end up with two hands on people a lot. In passing situations, that's the one thing you don't want to do, is have both of your hands on someone, because you're down the middle. You want to rush half a man. Just get off the ball quicker. Recognize the run and pass a little quicker as well.
Q: Is one of the reasons you think you can be better this year is because the defensive unit, the defensive line is together for another year and you have the experience from last year to play off of?
A: Yeah, that as well as the guys that are still here. Nobody is in the locker room talking about, 'I was an All-Pro, I went to the Pro Bowl.' or, 'We got it figured out.' Guys are still trying to get better genuinely. And you'll see that this training camp. We still don't have everything figured out. You know, I still don't understand JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) completely. I still don't understand OV (Olivier Vernon). And I have to learn the new guys next to me, the three technique. I think that will help everybody to stay focused.
Q: What is the vision of this defense with nine starters back and another year under Spags (Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo)? How good can this defense be?
A: Just to improve, man. Just to improve. We're not going to sit here and talk numbers or chase numbers. In this league, things can go really good or really bad if you're chasing something that's not the same as every other guy that's on the field. So, I don't think anything other than improving on what we did last year.
Q: Think of if you were preparing to play the Giants offense, which has added a few weapons this year. Just curious if you have an opinion about what their ceiling might be?
A: Well, I'm going to kick their (expletive), number one (laughing). No man, when you add Brandon Marshall that changes everything. You can't really double-team Odell anymore and just zone the other side of the field. Brandon's just too big for that. You got Sterling Shepard, the rookie (Evan) Engram, Roger Lewis, Tavarres King. It's a lot of talent there on the offensive side of the ball. There's only one football, so I'm sure you'll see guys giving it a 1,000 percent effort to get open in the hopes of catching the football.