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Importance of James Harrison to Steelers defense can’t be overstated

We don’t yet know for sure whether James Harrison will return to his familiar Outside Linebacker position this Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. Whether it’s this week or next week or the week after, his importance to the team is not something that you can over look.

We Steeler fans know all too well what happens when one or both of the bookend pass rushers are out of the game for any length of time. The pressure on opposing offenses goes up considerably when both are active, and is equally as noticeable when they’re missing.

Harrison did not practice on Wednesday but was seen running on the sidelines. Remember, Mike Tomlin never put a timetable on Deebo to return to full practice, rather stating things like “working out”. Those are two completely different situations.

Harrison talked with Steelers reporter Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, who tweeted out Thursday that Deebo told him that he plans to play on Sunday. Now, Harrison is normally one who’s pretty optimistic about his timetable for returning from injury but this year so far he’s been more obscure about when it will happen up until Thursday. Last week he said the knee wasn’t feeling well and of course he didn’t see action at all in Denver. We’ll get a better idea of how things go on Friday since that’s “D-day” if you will for injured players in Pittsburgh. If you don’t practice on Friday due to injury then you don’t normally play. We can only hope that his timetable is accurate.

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Since Harrison only prefers to speak to reporters on Friday anyway, I’m sure we’ll get some type of update from the man himself but don’t be surprised if it sounds something like, “the knee is feeling good, I want to play but it’s up to the coaches”.

One thing is for sure, his teammates know how important he is and can’t wait to get him back; as pointed out by Dan Gigler of the Post Gazette in a blog article on Thursday: The subject of James Harrison and will he?/won’t he? play on Sunday was the talk of the lockerroom today, at least among gathered media inquiring as to the menacing linebacker’s status.

Ike Taylor summed up the Steelers linebacker as only he can. “Deebo is Deebo. He [has] Deebo for a nickname, he [has] Silverback for a nickname. We don’t call him that just for the hell of it. So you already know what he bring.”

Harrison’s counterpart on the right side, Woodley, was a little more concise in talking about his skill set.

“Receivers are scared just because of the stuff he’s put on film showing that if you come across that middle … receivers will worry about that and quarterbacks will worry too, because he does a great job of getting to the quarterback and forcing fumbles.” – Post Gazette

That intimidation factor surrounding Harrison is as alive and well as ever, even in the midst of his recovering knee surgery. When he gets on the field he goes 100% all the time, every play and leaves nothing to chance. Even in the face of personal fouls, possible fines, or suspensions, he finds a way to get it done, his way.

The Steelers are old school in their defensive style of play, and Harrison’s style fits in perfectly as we all know. When he comes back the Steelers will be a better defense, a more intimidating defense and that’s something we can all appreciate.

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