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Harris looking to build on breakout season after re-signing with Lions

Outside linebacker Charles Harris had a feeling that he might have landed in a spot that would advance his career when he signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions last year.

One year later, Harris can look back and know he made a choice that was good for him and good for the Lions' defense.

Harris had the best season of his career playing on a "prove-it" contract in his fifth NFL season.

He set personal highs with 7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss. His vision that he could have a long-term relationship with the Lions was not a dream.

"I'm not going to say I was shocked," Harris said at a press conference Friday morning. "People were asking me a year ago, 'why were you signing here?' I was saying 'It's the culture.'

"Just the city itself. All the little small factors. All the players want to be here."

Harris was comfortable with the environment, and the way he was used on the field helped him make an impact.

"Really good scheme," he said. "The coaches set me in the right position."

Harris was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first round in 2017. For whatever reason, he made little impact there. He had 3.5 sacks in 41 games with eight starts in three seasons with the Dolphins.

Harris fared slightly better with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. He had three sacks in 13 games, with one start.

Harris knew he might be running out of opportunities when he signed with the Lions in 2021.

"It was in the back of my mind," he said. "It wasn't really something that worried me, if that makes sense. I understand how the game works."

View photos of Detroit Lions outside linebacker Charles Harris.

Harris is looking to improve on his performance in 2021. A change in the defense could do that. The Lions are switching to a predominantly 4-3 defense this year from the 3-4 defense they ran last year.

Harris won't have to drop into coverage as often as he did in a 3-4. He'll be able to use his quickness and agility to get to the passer.

He developed a comfortable level that should allow him to build on what he accomplished in 2021.

"I know what I've done," he said. "I know what works. I know what I can do. It's a better feeling to know I have the game plan now. It's a lot clearer."

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