By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — While there are several players listed as questionable for the Pittsburgh Steelers game at San Francisco Monday night, there is one that is scheduled to miss it after outside linebacker James Harrison was notified Tuesday that the NFL office has suspended him for one game.
The Steelers were penalized 15 yards when Harrison hit Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy shortly after he scrambled and released a pass last Thursday night. Harrison said Monday that the referee called a roughing-the-passer penalty and did not believe he should be fined or suspended, but he would address either and possibly an appeal if they occurred.
Harrison will lose a game check for about $75,000. The players were off, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed Harrison and the club’s injury report Tuesday afternoon in his weekly press conference.
“We’ll accept that (suspension), of course, but we’re disappointed,” Tomlin said. “We’re disappointed for James because we know, quite frankly, how hard he’s worked to play within the rules. He’s worked extremely hard to adjust his game. Unfortunately, the incident happened, and it was a penalty.
“We have to be accountable for that. He has to be accountable for that. So, we accept the judgment rendered by the league office, but we’ll move forward. Obviously, the parameters are that he won’t be allowed to participate in any football activities, and he’ll be allowed back in the building next Tuesday.
“There is an appeals process in place, but … I’d imagine that if he’s going to do something it will transpire pretty quickly,” Tomlin added. “(But) we’ll move forward from this. It has always been our intention to play within the rules. Things happen during the course of play, but we’ll move forward.”
Since Harrison clearly is identified by the NFL as a repeat offender and became the first player suspended for a hit since the rule clarifications last season, it was noted that another repeat offender on the Steelers — free safety Ryan Clark — could be suspended for his next penalized hit. But that prospect won’t change how Tomlin and his staff operate.
“We don’t wait until something happens to address issues,” Tomlin said. “We address issues continually, so I don’t believe there’s anything that needs to be addressed in terms of the football team.”
Tomlin added that he did not have enough knowledge of the appeals process to comment on what will transpire for Harrison or who in the league he needs to appeal to this week.
“I do know that (the hit) was a foul,” Tomlin said. “A quarterback who has just released a pass is defenseless, so it’s a foul.”
But Tomlin also believed it was just a slip for Harrison, who has not had a personal foul penalty since November in 2010.
“There also were some interesting circumstances,” Tomlin added. “The quarterback was out of the pocket. He tucked the ball and already had hurt us running pretty good to that point in the game. But all those things are irrelevant (because) he hit him illegally, and he has to suffer the consequences.”
“It’s disappointing, like I’ve said, because (Harrison) has worked hard to play differently,” Tomlin said. “But under the league guidelines, he is a repeat offender, so he and we have to suffer the consequences.”
Tomlin was asked if Lawrence Timmons would move outside if Harrison is unavailable with veteran Larry Foote taking his inside spot, but the head coach noted that Jason Worilds is in that equation as well. It also must be noted that the Steelers’ other outside linebacker, LaMarr Woodley, has been battling a hamstring injury for some six weeks and is still questionable.
So, the Steelers defensive alignment won’t be known until later this week.
Notes: As far as the Steelers quarterback situation is concerned, the definitive No. 2 signal-caller behind starter Ben Roethlisberger is veteran Charlie Batch. … Dennis Dixon has been third and inactive for games all season, so he rarely gets any snaps in practice. … Early in the week, that workload will increase for Batch and Dixon in case Roethlisberger (left ankle sprain) can’t play. … And even if he can play, Roethlisberger will be less than 100 percent, so all three could dress. … Tomlin also said that Chris Kemoeatu needs to either change his technique or improve his technique so he doesn’t continue to get penalties or he won’t play. … If Doug Legursky has to play center for Maurkice Pouncey (left ankle sprain) this week, either Kemoeatu or veteran Trai Essex will get the start at left guard.