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Giants’ Damon Harrison ready to be a leader “if the situation calls for it”

‘Snacks’ has shied away from the role, even if his teammates consider him a leader

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp TODAY NETWORK

Damon Harrison hasn’t always been comfortable with the idea of being a leader. He’s not the most vocal guy in the locker room, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old, seven-year vet and one of the Giants’ best players will be looked to in that role in some fashion.

Harrison met with the media today and answered a few questions on his leadership, a young defensive line, and a new defensive scheme.

You can watch the full press conference here:

On the need to step up and be a leader with younger players:

‘I think in certain situations. If the situation calls for it, then I’m willing to step up to the plate and be that, but I think as an overall leader, we have some guys who would be perfect in that role. Landon [Collins] is a natural-born leader, whether it be on the field or off the field. Obviously, you all know about Eli [Manning] and Zak DeOssie, but Ogletree as well, B.J. Goodson, Janoris Jenkins. These are all guys who show some really good leadership qualities and I think that they’re not getting their due justice on that front because you don’t get a chance to see what they do a lot, and I think they do a lot of things to help the guys behind the scenes more so than the guys who do it in front of the cameras or however you call it.”

On the young guys along the defensive line:

“Me and Dalvin [Tomlinson] developed a great relationship last year, so it was kind of a carry over. We spoke a lot during the offseason, and B.J. [Hill], he’s an interesting character, man. I don’t know if you guys have been watching, but he’s probably the most athletic defensive lineman that we have, and that says a lot. He can do a little bit of everything, which is encouraging to see, so I’m excited to get a chance to go out there preseason game one and beyond it and actually see what he can do during game day. ...

...Dalvin will tell you, I ask Dalvin a lot of questions out there and he’s able to help me for the most part, and it’s just funny being in this new system that we’re still both trying to learn what each other can do in the system and just to look at each other, ask the question and neither one of us knows the answer, which is another encouraging thing to see, believe it or not, because that means we just got a long way to go in the classroom. We gotta push each other. So yeah, it changes depending on the game plan.

On the new defense:

“It just takes me back to my first years in the league. It’s kind of like a Rex Ryan type defense. It’s a lot of attacking, it’s not sitting around waiting, trying to read and see the other guys on the offense are doing – it’s playing defense with an offensive mentality, so for the guys like myself and OV and Dalvin and Robert [Thomas], these are the types of systems that we love to play in. …’s not necessarily a two-gapper system, and neither was last year, but I think it’s just more of an emphasis on attacking one gap and just trying not to two gap, which will be tough for me because I’m a two gapper by nature. Just to get out of that and be able just to run up the field like some of these other guys, that’ll be cool.

Harrison appears to be in good spirits and excited about a new defensive scheme. He joked he feels old with the young guys in the defensive line room, but that he feels great physically. Harrison also said his limited practice at the start of training camp came from the training staff and since he’s been on the field, he hasn’t been limited in practice.

Per the Football Outsiders Almanac, Harrison’s 88 percent stop percentage on run plays was seventh among interior defenders last season. He was also involved on 9.5 percent of the Giants’ defensive plays, which was the highest rate in the league. Harrison’s role as the nose tackle in this defense will still put him in position to make plays against the run and will allow him to have a little more freedom to rush the quarterback — he was already third on the team with 15.5 pressures last season. Snacks could be in line for another big season and maybe his first trip to a Pro Bowl.