- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With starting New England Patriots safety Steve Gregory unlikely to play on Monday night with a broken right thumb, rookie Duron Harmon is primed to move into the starting lineup.
Harmon was a surprise third-round draft choice out of Rutgers as many media-based draft analysts (and a handful of teams we've spoken with) had him projected to go in the later rounds, if at all. But the Patriots saw something others didn't and to this point it has worked out well for the team.
Harmon has played in eight games as the No. 3 option on the depth chart, totaling 125 snaps on defense (mostly in sub packages) while also contributing on special teams units. The Magnolia, Del., native has had an interception in each of the past two games and coaches have credited him with nine tackles.
He shares his "football journey":
When he first started playing football: "I’ve been playing outside ever since I can remember, but I actually started in a league when I was 10."
What got him started playing football: "My grandfather used to take me to Delaware State football games every Saturday, every home game, and we would sit in the same seats."
First positions: "Running back and I played corner in Little League. I didn’t start playing safety until high school."
Favorite players growing up: "Michael Vick and Ricky Williams. At one point, I thought I was a quarterback and [Vick] was the guy at the time. And with Ricky Williams, when I played running back, I was also a Dolphins fan growing up. My mother bought me a Dan Marino jersey, a whole outfit when I was younger, and I used to just wear that around."
Role models in his life: "Definitely my mother [Dawn]. She’s a middle school teacher in Delaware. Also my father [Derik] works hard every day, a blue-collar worker; he works at Kraft General Foods. He missed a lot of my games in high school because he works at night, but he’s somebody I definitely look up to."
Top football memories of Caesar Rodney High School: "Winning the state championship -- growing up with a bunch of guys and doing what we set out to do our senior year, that was special."
Choosing to play football at Rutgers: "It was an up-and-coming program. I really liked the direction that Coach Schiano was taking the program, and it was close to home."
Favorite football memories from Rutgers: "Winning the Big East championship, even though the season didn’t play out at the end that we all hoped it would. Still, being the first Rutgers team to ever win the Big East championship was special."
Drafted in the third round by the Patriots: "It was exciting. Any time you see your dreams unfold before you eyes, it’s a great feeling."
Reaction to being labeled a 'surprise' pick by draftniks: "My agent was telling me ‘You could go anywhere, you did well in workouts and a lot of teams like your numbers, so just keep watching, you’ll definitely be drafted and things will be fine.' I can't really be upset that people didn’t know too much about me. There were a lot of great players on the [Rutgers] team -- Steve Beauharnais, Khaseem Greene, Logan Ryan, Marcus Cooper -- so for me to get overlooked, there isn't anything you can do about that. All I can do is continue to keep working, just trying to get better, and improving on my game."
Describing life as a Patriot: "It’s been a learning experience. Things are definitely different in college football, so all I can do is try to soak up as much knowledge from players like Steve [Gregory] and Dev [Devin McCourty] and keep learning, using this year as a year to get better."
What he prides himself on as a player: "Consistency. Coming into the league, you’re going to have your bumps and bruises, especially as a rookie. I’m just trying to learn how to be consistent, week in and week out."
What he loves about football: "The real question is what not to love about football for me. I like the idea of having a group of guys, a group of teammates, a group of brothers, and going out there and fighting for each other. I love that. I also the physicality of the game. I just like how you can apply what you experience in the game to life. There is always going to be adversity in football. No game is ever going to be the perfect game. When you can see that on the football field, it makes life a little bit easier. Are you going to stand up to it or run away from it?"
Lowest point in football: "I would probably say the Louisville game last year. There was a play that I could have made, I didn’t make it, and they ended up scoring. It’s a play that nine times out of 10 I know I’d make, but I didn’t and we ended up losing the game. I put a lot of pressure on myself after that. It was a tough time to get out of that little slump, but I got out of it."
Summing up his football journey: "There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, some good days and some bad days; that’s what I love the most about this game, it hits you with adversity and shows you what type of person you are and what type of person you want to be and can be."
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