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With Dont’a Hightower done, David Harris gets his chance

New England Patriots v New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell #19 of the New England Patriots is tackled by inside linebacker David Harris #52 of the New York Jets during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has praised David Harris for essentially being a defensive coordinator. With Hightower done for the year, Harris could soon be a lot more than that.

Each one of us has to step up,” Harris said Thursday, via Mike Reiss of “Hightower has been playing at a high level since he got here and a key point to the defense. We hate to lose a guy like that, but it’s on all of us to step up. Myself included.”

Harris, who arrived in June after being abruptly cut by the Jets, has appeared in four games with one start. As noted by Reiss, Harris participated in 19 snaps on Sunday night against the Falcons.

“It felt good to be out there. I’m just ready when my number is called,” Harris said Thursday. “I continue to prepare for the [chance].”

At least one teammate believes that Harris will be fine.

“The more reps he’s gotten, obviously he’s done better,” safety Devin McCourty said on Thursday, per Reiss. “He came in there Sunday, there was no panic from anybody. He was very calm, played fast, was running around hitting. I think he’s stepped up and showed he’s ready to go.”

Harris likely will get his chance to prove on Sunday against the Chargers, a game that Harris likely will start -- and a game in which there’s a good chance he’ll be wearing the green dot on his helmet, signifying that he’s receiving, and relaying, the play calls from the sideline.