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Will James Harrison become part of the Steelers defense in 2017?
Harrison was a force for the Steelers down the stretch in their run to the AFC title Game last season. After the Cowboys loss to fall to 4-5 and the Steelers season spiraling out of control, the change to Harrison in the starting lineup played a big part in transforming the defense.
Circumstances have changed quickly in 2017 as Harrison might as well been inactive vs the Browns and Vikings.
Through two games the Steelers are getting to the quarterback better than have in years with 12.5 sacks.
T.J. Watt is a more impactful player than Steelers thought he would be this early and Harrison’s not going to be given a chance to take away Watt’s reps.
The 2016 version of Harrison was still pretty good and things appear to set up perfectly for Harrison to be a situational pass rusher and get 8-12 snaps for certain schemes without taking Watt off the field.
However, we’ve yet to see any of that and in the Week 2 win over the Vikings, T.J. Watt left early with a groin injury and Harrison still didn’t see the field, playing zero snaps.
Anthony Chickillo moved over to right outside linebacker and played 46 snaps while Watt played the first 20 snaps at ROLB before his injury.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explains why Harrison is parked on the bench and fow now isn’t even the backup ROLB.
“Is he dropping [hide], or are other guys ascending?,” Mike Tomlin said of Harrison..
“Bud Dupree missed some time in Week 1, and Anthony Chickillo was able to start. Chickillo produced two sacks. You respect those contributions. T.J. got hurt in Week 2, and we wanted to leave the hot hand in there, Chickillo being that hot hand. We appreciate James. We know what James is capable of. James will ready himself, and there will be a time in the season when we’ll call on his services, and he’ll deliver and deliver in a big way. Much like he did in the latter part of 2016. In the meanwhile, we’re going to continue to roll people and play, and play guys as we see fit and not do a real good job of maybe describing our mind-set, or outlining our intentions, because part of it is gamesmanship and part of it is it will define itself as we move forward.”
Joey Porter wasn’t mixing words when he spouted off during training camp in saying the Steelers were going to ride T.J. Watt and their young linebackers.
Harrison is expected to continue to be an afterthought vs Bears in week 3. [/hide]
It’s a long season. He’ll figure in prominently.