TS: Was there any particular moment where you thought: WOW! I’m really in the NFL?
Harper: “It came true when you hit that third week and everybody started rooting for me and I got to come out as a starter and the crowd rooted for me individually…..that game there just set it for me.”
In week 2 of the pre-season, Harper rushed for 83 yards on only 11 carries after gaining the start. When week 3 approached, the fans were more familiar with him.
TS: With Clemson having a crowded backfield in the last few years, do you think you could have a bigger impact in the NFL rather than college?
Harper: “If God blessed me to be able (have the opportunity) to be a premier back in a true dual running back sense….it would bring a lot more opportunity and basically, with a lot more opportunity it’s a lot easier to showcase a lot, where I was not always able to showcase in college.”
Harper went on to say that in college he did what he could when he did have his opportunities, but when he first came to the NFL he recieved a big one after Javon Ringer got hurt amidst Chris Johnson’s holdout, it gave him a big opportunity to step up and showcase his ability in the pre-season. Harper received 8 carries in week on and followed that with a start in the final 3 games. He tallied 38 carries for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He added one catch for 24 yards.
My favorite part of the answer: “Alright now we (everyone) get to see who Jamie Harper is and I stepped up and did the best of my ability and it came out on the good end for me.”
TS: What do you think the strongest part of your game is right now?
Harper: “Right now, just being that role player. Being able to stay mentally tough for whenever my numbers called, whether it be special teams or a 3rd and 1 and they need the big back to go in there, or if it’s pass protection or being able to get out there and….show my moves and my hands out of the backfield.”
Harper mentioned that he’s more than willing to do anything that’s asked of him on the field and that his ability to stay mentally tough remains his number one asset. Obviously, these are some of the main traits you look for when bringing someone into a team environment.
TS: What part of your game as of right now would you say is your weakest? Not necessarily a weak part, but the part that you know you need to focus on the most.
Harper: Technique of pass protection. You can never stop critiquing your technique…..I always try to find edges that can help me in my technique in pass protection being able to pick up blitzes and things of that nature because at this level the NFL people disguise it….Ah, man they disguise it a lot better! They’re a lot faster, a lot quicker and a lot more precise and a lot smarter.
TS: My friends and I were debating about the recent Monday Night Football game between the Ravens and Jags. Having played both teams, could you tell us, were the Ravens that bad on offense or were the Jags that good on defense?
Harper: “Playing Jacksonville at home, their crowd gets electrifying…. And when you’re able to get a home crowd behind your defense, it’s kind of tough to be in that environment.”
Pointing out the number one rule of defense, Harper went on to say that “when you’re able to frustrate Flacco (or any QB) back there in the pocket and get to him a few times, it kind of weakens the team on the offensive side.”
I mentioned Ray Lewis and he simply said: “Aw, man….”
Part 2 comes out tomorrow, as well as an article on Jamie’s thoughts about why the Titans run game has disappointed.