MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: Nick Harris doesn't mind being considered the new guy

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Harris, who punted for the Lions from 2003-2010, was released at the end of the exhibition season last year, and was re-signed on Tuesday after Ben Graham sustained a season-ending leg injury.

Nick Harris felt like a new guy, looked like an old guy, and wondered who some of the new guys were in his first trip back to the Lions’ locker room after being away for more than a year.

Harris, who punted for the Lions from 2003-2010, was released at the end of the exhibition season last year,  and was re-signed on Tuesday after Ben Graham sustained a season-ending leg injury.

Harris enjoyed his stay in Detroit and felt good to be back. At 34 and with 11 years of NFL experience – eight of them with the Lions -- Harris didn’t mind being considered the new guy.

“It’s awesome,” Harris said after practice Wednesday. “It’s kind of strange. I look at the rookies and they look at me like. ‘Who’s the new guy?' I look at them like, they’re the new guy.

“It’s awesome. It’s really cool.”

Harris was beaten out in training camp last year by rookie Ryan Donahue, who struggled before going in injured reserve in midseason with a leg injury.

Graham was signed and finished the season and won the punting duel in training camp. Graham was hurt on a fourth-quarter punt in Sunday’s loss at Tennessee.

The Lions worked out some punters and signed Harris.

When the Lions called, Harris was at home in the Jacksonville area. He was the Jaguars’ punter for the last 11 games last year. He was cut by Carolina at the end of training camp this year.

Harris began his career with Cincinnati in 2001 and was signed by the Lions during the 2003 season.

For his career, he has a 42.5-yard gross average and a 35.7-yard net average. For Jacksonville, he had a 42.7-yard gross average and a net of 37.9.

Harris worked out after being cut by Carolina to be ready in case a team wanted to sign him.

His experience as the holder for kicker Jason Hanson no doubt helped him return to the Lions.

One thing he missed last year was not being part of a winning season with the Lions. Harris went through the worst seasons in franchise history, including the 0-16 season in 2008.

He wished he could have been part of last season’s playoff team.

“Part of leaving was leaving the rebuilding years and seeing them come to fruition,” he said. “I’m here now, and here we go.”