Bruschi, who played the same position as Harris in the Patriots’ scheme from 1996 to 2008, said on SportsCenter that it was a shrewd move by the club. Part of Bruschi’s thinking is the protection it gives the team in the event of injury to captain Dont'a Hightower.
“I like the move. I know they like the move. Hightower is a player that playing 16 games, you’re not sure if he’s going to get that. He does have some injury situations where he plays 12, he plays 13 games,” Bruschi, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, said. “And they also like Hightower, in particular packages, on the outside. So to have a veteran presence -- I know [second-year man] Elandon Roberts can play that, and now Harris comes in to give them a veteran presence.
“He’s still super instinctual. You watch him on film and he barely takes a false step. He knows what he’s doing, he knows the reads; he just does it a little bit slower than he did maybe four years ago.”
Bruschi then touched on how the addition of a player like Harris can create a positive trickle-down effect in the locker room.
“When you’ve won a couple championships in the last few years now, you get some players that maybe get a little complacent. You bring in a veteran that hasn’t won a championship, and [others] can look at someone who has played 10 years in the league, that’s hungry, that is a true professional, and is a good 'backer room guy and in the locker room. The hard work he’s going to do to still get that championship, it can remind some of these younger players that have been so beneficial to the success [the Patriots] have had: ‘I have to work like that, I have to continue to work like that.’ And maybe they have some motivation to get Harris his championship.”
Bruschi expounded upon those thoughts later in the day on NFL Live.
“He’s 33 years old, the tank isn’t full, but it still has a lot of gas left in it,” he said. “Over the course of my career there, there were multiple players brought in, although championships were already won: Randy Moss, Corey Dillon, Junior Seau. You get rejuvenated by seeing a veteran player who wants to come and you know he wants that championship. So, you know what, ‘let’s get this for Moss, for a Dillon, for a Seau ... because this guy has a lot of tread on the tires but he’s still playing hard, still great effort out there, he’s trying to lead us.'
“So it might be refreshing for Hightower, in my opinion. Because having not all on him on first and second down, for David Harris to help him and take some of that mental burden off him, that’s going to help him.
“He shouldn’t see the field on third down [other than] third-and-short, fourth-and-short, something like that, but on first and second down, those definite run packages against the big units, he’ll be in there helping out.”