David Harris has played in more games against the Patriots than nearly 60 members of New England’s roster have played for the organization.
That’s the byproduct of spending 10 seasons in the AFC East.
Drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft – 14 picks after Michigan and now-Patriots teammate Alan Branch – Harris first encountered New England in that year’s opener. The rookie linebacker notched two tackles in the 1 p.m. ET matchup, yet the most memorable moments belonged to wideout Randy Moss, who amassed nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown in his Pats debut.
It’s been a while.
Harris would go on to make plenty memories of his own over the years versus New England. He faced the divisional rival an additional 19 times through 2016, leaving impressions that outlasted his tenure in East Rutherford yet remained under file in Foxborough.
“Yeah, I have a lot of respect for David Harris,” Bill Belichick told reporters during a December 2014 press conference prior to another meeting, via Patriots.com. “That guy is, first of all, he never comes of the field – not [just] this year, but any year. The guy is like a 98-, 99-percent playtime player for them every year, year after year.
“It’s obviously a defense that has a lot of communication and adjustments and he’s certainly at the center of that, both as the signal caller and then at the line of scrimmage you can see him adjusting the front or making some type of communication calls to his teammates,” added Belichick. “He’s a very instinctive player, which unfortunately we’ve seen that firsthand.”
Many times over.
GAME LOG AGAINST PATRIOTS
Sept. 9, 2007: Two tackles
Dec. 16, 2007: Eight tackles
Sept. 14, 2008: Eight tackles
Sept. 20, 2009: Five tackles
Nov. 22, 2009: 14 tackles
Sept. 19, 2010: Six tackles
Dec. 6, 2010: Six tackles, sack
Jan. 16, 2011: 12 tackles, pick
Oct. 9, 2011: Nine tackles, sack
Nov. 13, 2011: Six tackles
Oct. 21, 2012: Eight tackles, sack
Nov. 22, 2012: 10 tackles
Sept. 12, 2013: Eight tackles
Oct. 20, 2013: Five tackles
Oct. 16, 2014: Four tackles, sack
Dec. 21, 2014: 10 tackles, half-sack
Oct. 25, 2015: Four tackles
Dec. 27, 2015: Six tackles
Nov. 27, 2016: 11 tackles
Dec. 24, 2016: Eight tackles
Harris accrued 150 total tackles – 80 solo – and 4.5 sacks as the Jets went 5-15 against the Patriots through 2016. He posted double-digit tackles five times. And in the 2010 divisional round – his lone playoff game versus New England – Harris racked up a dozen tackles to go with a 58-yard interception return on another Wolverine, Tom Brady, en route to a 28-21 Jets victory.
There wasn’t much left unseen from Harris by the time the 33-year-old was released by the Jets earlier this June. There wasn’t much more advance scouting for the Patriots to do.
No. 52 started 131 of his 154 regular-season games for New York, including every game he was active for dating back to 2008. He’d compiled 1,087 tackles, 35 sacks, 31 passes defended, six interceptions, a touchdown and 11 forced fumbles. And even during his final campaign with the Jets, Harris logged the second-most snaps on the defense – 899 – while once again leading the unit in stops.
Belichick’s three-year-old sentiments on Harris have held up well. The availability and productivity are still there.
“He’s been a good football player for them for a long time,” the Patriots head coach said in 2014. “He’s out there in every situation – third-and-inches or third-and-40. You’re going to find him out there doing something.”
The Patriots often did.
Harris missed just one contest in his career versus New England before signing a two-year pact to join them this week. In a corresponding move listed on Thursday's NFL transaction wire, the Patriots waived wide receiver DeAndrew White.
Harris' first contest against his former club is slated for Oct. 15 at MetLife Stadium.