Damon Harrison believes that the New York Giants are poised to take a step forward, the defensive tackle sounding like a man who believes his team is ready to build on last year.
At the center of the Giants' rebuilding of their defense last offseason, Harrison believes this resurgent team is on the cusp of that pivotal next step. Last year, the Giants returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 where a Wild Card loss to the Green Bay Packers provided a disappointing end to a 10-6 season.
Now on the first day of training camp, Harrison didn’t hide his optimism but didn’t fan the flames of anticipation.
“We don't come here just to be sub par, we come here to perform at our highest level. If everybody does that, then I'm sure we'll win some games,” Harrison said. “But as far as predicting wins and losses and, you know, Super Bowls or bust, I don't think anyone is here for that.”
Last year’s playoff run was the first of Harrison’s career. He signed from the New York Jets as a free agent last offseason where he spent the first four years of his career and didn’t make the postseason.
The Giants return to the playoffs came in large part due to their new-look defense. The offseason in 2016 was spent revamping a defense that was statistically among the worst in the league, adding difference makers and star power.
Harrison, along with the likes of cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive end Olivier Vernon, helped change the unit’s fortunes and made them respectable.
The group gelled to the point that it was the defense and not the offense that carried the Giants into the playoffs.
Harrison thinks the group can get better now with two offseasons and one full year under their belt.
“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,” Harrison said. “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 3-technique. I think that will help everybody to stay focused.”