DAVIE—It’s easy to look at Dolphins defensive end Charles Harris’ one sack in 390 snaps and be disappointed by his rookie year. But there’s a lot more to his play than just that.
There are some impressive numbers on Harris, beyond sacks, that show he’s playing as well as any of Miami’s defensive ends. He could not care less about those stats, by the way, good or bad.
“I don’t really look at my numbers,” he said. “I don’t look at that stuff. I ain’t never did it in college and I aint gonna do it now. Just keep playing the game. “I know what I do when I watch my film, but that’s all I really know.”
Going into Monday night’s game against New England, Harris leads the team in holding penalties caused (four) and is second in quarterback hurries (21) despite playing just half the defensive snaps. For comparison, Cameron Wake has played 58 percent, and Andre Branch has played 55 percent despite missing a game due to injury.
Harris also has more quarterback hits than Branch, eight to six. Wake leads the team with 22, followed by Ndamukong Suh’s nine.
Harris also leads Miami’s defensive line in passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Regardless of whether he cares about any of those numbers, which coach Adam Gase said are good indicators of how he’s playing, Harris can tell he’s been improving since training camp.
“I think I’m doing better now,” he said. “I’m being a lot more confident in my pass rushing abilities and being more confident in the calls and everything like that. I’m looking for a big week this week and a big end to the season. I’m looking to finish strong.”
One of the biggest challenges for any NFL rookie is making the shift from a starring role in college to coming off the bench as a pro. While the Dolphins see Harris, the No. 22 pick this year, ultimately developing into a mainstay starting defensive end, they’ve asked him to learn behind Wake and Branch for at least his rookie year.
He’s embraced that and benefited tremendously from working with Wake, who showed no hesitation being a mentor. Wake’s taught him a lot of little things, like learning to time the end of the play clock in order to get a jump on the offensive tackle, and set an overall example how to operate on a daily basis at this level. That’s helped his transition.
“It’s just a process you’ve got to understand,” Harris said. “In time, everything gets better, so keep working hard. It’s just like when I got to college. My first year in college, I was a scrub. I wasn’t nothing. Then, obviously, I made it to the NFL. It’s the same.”
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