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Harrison, Vernon talk about defense, pinpoint an unlikely leader

The media got to talk to several players after Jerry Reese's pre-draft press conference Thursday.

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants high profile -- and high dollar -- defensive acquisitions this offseason have been well covered, particularly from the financial side of things. With the start of the off-season program, we are getting a glimpse into another side.

With big money often comes big egos and big personalities and fitting high-end free agents into a locker room can be a chancy proposition at best.

After Jerry Reese's Thursday pre-draft press conference, the Giants new defensive linemen got to talk to the press, and had some encouraging things to say about the locker room.

Damon Harrison said that he was welcomed into the Giants' locker room with open arms.

"It is big," Harrison said. "They have some guys who have been pretty successful in this league and some younger guys who are looking for sustainable success so just to be in here and getting the vibe from them. Being on the other side of town in the other locker room, you kind of admired what was going on here because everywhere you go, they are always talking about the New York Giants this, the New York Giants that and now to actually be here and to be a part of it is amazing."

It's a sentiment that was later echoed by Olivier Vernon when he took the microphone.

"Since day one, a lot of the guys came up to me and said what's up and made me feel welcome. As far as the whole process of OTA's and leading into training camp, it's pretty much about gelling together and becoming one as a team." Vernon said, later adding "It's going pretty well. When I came to the building, a lot of the guys approached me and said their name. I felt welcomed. That's a good feeling. It's like the first day of school. You're the new guy at school and pretty much trying to get to know everybody. From that aspect, I feel like everything is going pretty smooth right now."

When he was hired as -- or promoted to be, if you prefer -- the Giants' new head coach, Ben McAdoo described himself as believing in relationships. The two big free agents have already begun building relationships with their fellow defenders. Jason Pierre-Paul helped to recruit Vernon in free agency, and the two defensive ends appear to be building on that relationship "He’s a cool guy, cool dude." Vernon said, "When I spoke to him, he pretty much stressed about getting back on top and having something to prove. Winning. He’s been there. He knows what it takes to get there. The biggest thing is to get these wins. We’ve got to win. It’s not easy."

Harrison and Johnathan Hankins seem to have struck up a friendship as well.

"Pretty good man. Hankins is a cool guy." Harrison said, "We have actually hung out together a couple times off the field, which is a little different than I normally do because I am not the type of guy that outside of football I hang around too many people, but the defensive line here and a couple of the other guys in the position groups, we have hung out together a couple of times off the field, so it is building a different kind of chemistry."

Considering the youth of the Giants rebuilt defense, the beat writers had questions about the leadership on that side of the ball. Vernon had the most interesting answer regarding who were the Alpha Males of the defensive meeting room, an unlikely name the first out of his mouth. "A lot of the guys, from what I've seen, J.T. (Thomas)," Vernon said, adding, "JPP speaks up. He's been a leader here, since he's been here. A lot of the guys look up to them. I'm glad to be a part of it."