After a highly disappointing 2022 season, Charles Harris is ready to prove his performance in 2021 was not a fluke.
Headed for first-round draft pick bust status, if not already there, Charles Harris signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions in 2021. He followed with the best season with the best season of his career (65 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, a team-high 7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits).
A groin injury early last season limited Harris. It eventually landed him on IR, and ended his season. Rookie James Houston stepped up, with eight sacks in seven games, and Harris became easy to forget about or even put somewhere near the chopping block this offseason.
Harris stayed with the Lions with a slight pay cut, and the recovery time he has had should help. But the Lions have more edge rusher depth, and his role is not as clear as it was when the team was far less-talented two years ago.
Charles Harris wants to show his 2021 performance was not a fluke
It's easy to write off Harris' showing in 2021 as born of being on a bad team and his NFL career being on the ropes. Those things can be true within the scales of opportunity (bad team) and motivation (keeping his career going).
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) recently caught up with Harris. He said he feels like he's "really better" than he was in 2021 and mentioned the mental aspect specifically.
"Pass rush standpoint, I think mentally I’m just a lot smarter, a lot sharper as a football player,” Harris told Birkett. “You’re in the same system for the most part, you just know your plays better. Know your plays, know tendencies."
But Harris also knows this year is an opportunity to reset after a disappointing 2022 season.
"I don’t look at myself as high up on the food chain or nothing like that. I feel like I’m at the bottom," “That’s the thing about it. I remember A.G. (Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) kind of said, he told us a couple years ago, whatever happened last year was last year, nobody remembers that kind of stuff."
The Lions certainly need a more balanced pass rush after Aidan Hutchinson and Houston accounted for so much last season. Harris could be a key cog to that end, and things can only be better for him than they were last year.