Harmon: Schiano prepared players for the NFL

Harmon: Schiano prepared players for the NFL
September 19, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Duron Harmon will have to step up to fill some of the void left from injuries.

(USA Today Sports Images)

FOXBORO -- You may want to sit down for this.

The Patriots like former Rutgers players. If you haven't heard, there are more than a few on the Patriots roster. And, as fate would have it, the Patriots are playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, a team coached by former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.

Mind-blowing stuff, right?

It's true. In fact, three rookies on this year's Patriots bunch were drafted out of Rutgers this season: cornerback Logan Ryan (third round), safety Duron Harmon (third round) and linebacker Steve Beauharnais (seventh round). Team co-captain and safety Devin McCourty also played under Schiano for the Scarlet Knights from 2006-09.

While much was made of the New Jersey-to-New-England express around the time of the draft, now, after rookie minicamp, training camp, and nearly three weeks of the regular season, Schiano's former players have a good feel for just how well-prepared they were coming into their post-graduate work.

"It's helped some," Harmon said. "But at the end of the day that's college football and this is the NFL, so stuff is a lot different. But I feel like coach Schiano did a good job of preparing his players for the NFL. I think it's shown. But I'm still a long way away from where I want to be and a long way away for where the coaches want me to be."

Harmon explained that it's a focus on football studies -- what players do in the film room and how much time they spend in their playbooks -- that may help Rutgers players adapt to pro life quickly.

"It's just being a smart football player," Harmon said. "[Schiano] ingrains that in us as soon as we get there. At Rutgers University if you're not a smart football player you can't play. It's the same thing here."

All three Rutgers rookies are still looking to carve their niche as Patriots regulars. Harmon played eight snaps last week in a 13-10 win over the Jets, while Ryan and Beauharnais saw no game action. In Week 1 against the Bills, Ryan played two snaps while Harmon and Beauharnais watched.

Harmon, however, looks to be climbing the depth chart. When Steve Gregory sat last Thursday, it was Harmon who replaced him, not second-year safety Tavon Wilson.