Lions players cautiously optimistic about Damon Harrison trade

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The best way to describe the reaction in the Detroit Lions locker room to the anticipated acquisition of Damon "Snacks" Harrison is cautious optimism.

Most Lions players had seen the morning news, that the Lions had agreed to send a fifth-round pick to the Giants for the 355-pound former All-Pro. Some of the roster’s younger players, namely tight end Michael Roberts and Jamal Agnew, posted humorous tweets referencing Harrison’s nickname, without directly addressing his name. Agnew used emojis of snack foods — peanuts, popcorn and pretzels — while Roberts posted a gif of a woman throwing several bags of chips into a shopping cart.

Lions players are cautiously optimistic about the potential addition of defensive lineman Damon "Snacks" Harrison.

But veteran leaders showed more restraint when asked how the news had been received.

“He’s still not in this building, so I don’t know if he’s in yet,” defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. “I’ve got to see you in the building. I don’t want to hear no news, media, nothing, I’ve got to see you. … When he get in here, then we can talk about it.”

Safety Glover Quin had similar thoughts, acknowledging he was excited when he first heard the news, but wouldn’t allow himself to truly accept it until he was practicing with Harrison.

But unlike Jean Francois, Quin elaborated on the hypothetical impact the addition of Harrison would mean for a defense that ranks near the bottom of the league against the run.

“Good players and players that are good at what they do, they can change a game because you have to account for them,” Quin said. “If you have a dominant defensive lineman, obviously the offensive line coach, in the scheme for the week, says, ‘Hey, we can’t let this guy wreck the run game.’ Now they’re probably spending more time doubling him, making sure they keep more eyes on him.

“Well, if they’re committing two, possibly three guys to making sure he’s not tackling the running back in the backfield, that’s opening more space for other guys, putting them in one-on-one situations.”

More: Rogers: Lions pull off masterful move in snagging Damon Harrison

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Assuming the Harrison deal becomes official, the Lions will have three former Giants defensive linemen on the roster, all with significant roles. He would join free agent signing Devon Kennard and waiver claim Romeo Okwara, who have combined for 31 tackles and nine sacks this season.

Kennard wasn’t in the locker room Wednesday afternoon, but Okwara spoke briefly about the possibility of pairing up with Harrison once again.

“I mean, he’s an incredible player,” Okwara said. “He’s a dominant player. That’s all I got to say. …It’s a guy that can definitely help us. Everyone knows that. It’s pretty obvious.”

Harrison's arrival can't come soon enough. The Lions rank 30th against the run this season, including allowing 5.3 yards per carry, tied for worst in the NFL. Harrison, meanwhile, has led defensive tackles in run stops the past three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. 

The Lions play the Seattle Seahawks this week, a team that has averaged 30 rushing attempts per game behind a three-headed backfield attack and the always dangerous mobility of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers