Lions upgrade run defense with DT Harrison

New York Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison (98) during second half against Cleveland Browns Aug 9.Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions acquired defensive tackle Damon Harrison from the New York Giants for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick.

Emboldened by a two-game winning streak that seemed far-fetched at the beginning of the season, the Detroit Lions made a trade Wednesday to bolster their porous run defense with an eye on making the playoffs.

Harrison has long been considered one of the best interior run defenders in the NFL, and the Lions rank 30th in rush defense at 139.3 yards per game.

"Dominant run stopper," Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara said. "He's a force on the defense. Controls A gap to A gap, that's what he does."

Harrison will take over for Sylvester Williams as the Lions' starting nose tackle once the trade is official, though it's not yet clear if he'll play in Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Harrison flew to Detroit on Wednesday and is expected to begin practicing and meeting with the team Thursday after he passes his physical.

Okwara said he believes Harrison won't have any issues transitioning to the Lions defense after making a similar transition himself earlier in the year.

The Lions claimed Okwara off waivers from the Giants in early September. Okwara was inactive for the Lions' season opener days later against the New York Jets, but has started the last five games in place of the injured Ziggy Ansah and is second on the team with four sacks.

"He's a smart guy, he's played in the league for multiple years so I think he won't have any trouble adjusting to whatever he has to do," Okwara said.

The Lions' defense is similar enough to what Harrison has played in for most of his time with the Giants that they start two of Harrison's ex-teammates in their front seven, Okwara and strong-side linebacker Devon Kennard.

Williams declined comment when asked what Harrison's addition means for his role, but the excitement about the Lions new addition was palpable in the locker room Wednesday.

At 3-3, the Lions remain in the thick of the NFC North race and have five of their six division games still ahead.

"I know a lot of guys in the locker room have seen him and played against him obviously in the preseason," said fullback Nick Bellore, who played three seasons with Harrison with the New York Jets. "But just from playing with him it'll be fun to have him here and a huge asset to the team."

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 8-5. The Lions and Seahawks last met in the wild-card round of the 2016 playoffs, when the Seahawks kept the Lions out of the end zone in a 26-6 win.

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