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O'HARA: After a successful prove-it year, Harris is ready to prove it again

Charles Harris came to the Detroit Lions last season as a former first-round draft pick who had not lived up to his draft position in four previous seasons with two teams.

He was a "prove-it" candidate on a one-year contract with no guarantees for the future. He had to prove he had a future on the Lions' defense, and he started from the bottom, working with the third team in training camp.

Harris proved he belonged with the Lions. He posted a career-high 7.5 sacks. That bettered his career total of seven sacks for his first four seasons – three with the Dolphins, who drafted him, and the 2020 season with the Falcons.

He could have hit the market this year as an unrestricted free agent, but the Lions signed him back on a two-year contract.

Harris knew what he had to prove last season, and his attitude on that hasn't change despite having a new contract.

"Without a doubt, it really was a prove-it year," Harris said after Thursday's OTA practice. "I think this year is the same. It's prove it again."

One would think Harris has achieved some level of comfort, but he is taking nothing for granted as he prepares for the 2022 season.

"It's kind of one of those things," he said. "You reach the mountain top. What's next? That's kind of where I am now.

"I've done that. I've proven that. I also see what's ahead of me as well. There are bigger mountains that I'm prepared to climb."

The Lions have made a significant change on defense, replacing the 3-4 read-and-react front they played last season with an attacking 4-3 base defense.

That plays into Harris' strength and allows him to rely more on his quickness.

Reconstructing the defense, which last season had only 30 sacks – third fewest in the league – was a major offseason project.

"I'm comfortable with whatever we do," Harris said. "The coaches are going to put me in the right position. The guys around me are going to do their job. Likewise, I'm going to do my job.

"If the coaches put you in the right position, and everybody does their job, how can you not succeed? At that point, it's all on you. That's something we have to take on ourselves.

"Even if it's not the right call (from the coaches) – it's not the perfect call -- we can still make a play out of the call."

View photos from Day 5 of Detroit Lions OTA practices on Thursday, June 2, 2022 in Allen Park, Mich.

Harris self-scouted himself in the offseason to see where he could have made more plays.

"There are opportunities there that I need to capitalize on," Harris said. "There are a lot of plays I could have made that didn't get made. That's where I'm gong to be more efficient.

"Make all those plays, and then some."

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