NORTH CALDWELL, N.J. -- David Harris' value to the New York Jets' defense goes beyond the stat sheet. He's the man in the middle, the quarterback of the front seven -- the glue, as coach Todd Bowles likes to call him.
This season, the defense will require industrial-strength glue from Harris, the leader of a linebacking corps filled with youth.
"Oh, yeah, I know I have to step up even more with so much inexperience," Harris said Monday at the Green Brook Country Club, where he hosted his annual golf outing to benefit the Give the Kids Hope Foundation. "We're young. We have to make sure everybody is on the same page. We have to make sure they're on top of their playbook. ... The training wheels are coming off. For Darron [Lee], they might come off a little faster because he's a first-round pick."
Lee and third-round pick Jordan Jenkins, an outside linebacker, are two rookies who will compete for playing time. Lee is expected to play immediately as a nickel linebacker, with Jenkins likely to start out as a situational pass-rusher. He also could challenge for the wide-open starting job on the strong side. Lorenzo Mauldin, entering his second season, is the leading candidate to start at the weak-outside spot. Erin Henderson, a backup last season, is slated to start alongside Harris in the middle of the 3-4.
The 32-year-old Harris isn't a vocal leader, so don't look for him in his 10th season to be That Guy. He will do it his way, trying to galvanize a unit in the midst of a major, but not unexpected reconstruction.
"We've been such a veteran team that a lot of guys already knew how to approach things," Harris said. "Now we have a lot of new guys and I have to show them the way.
"It's not about yelling or trying to point fingers or anything like that," he continued. "We're all in this together."
Harris commands a lot of respect in the locker room, which was evident at his golf outing. About 30 players and several coaches, including Bowles, showed up for the event. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used, in large part, for repairs and renovations of the Spray Park Pavilion at Camp Hope in West Milford, New Jersey, where 2,700 underprivileged kids attend camp at no cost every summer.
"When I was 11 years old, I went to summer camp for a week and I had a blast," said Harris, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I think every kid should be able to experience that."