James Harrison is more worried about the Steelers' ability to replace him on special teams if it comes to that than he is his readiness to take over for Joey Porter as a starting outside linebacker.
"That may sound conceited to some people, but I feel like with the opportunities that I've had I've played well enough that there wasn't a huge drop-off, or any drop-off at all," Harrison said.
There have been eight such opportunities for Harrison to start for either Porter or Clark Haggans since 2004.
The Steelers' willingness to part with Porter speaks volumes about their faith in Harrison to fill the current gap at outside linebacker, at least initially.
But there was a huge drop-off in the kicking game during the first half of last season, not just on fielding kickoffs and punts but also in covering them.
It was there the Steelers learned the hard way that their core players weren't as replaceable as initially anticipated.
Former special teams captain Chidi Iwuoma was released just before the start of the season and wasn't re-signed until Dec. 4.
And former special teams demon Brett Keisel had his kicking game duties severely curtailed after being promoted to stating defensive end to replace Kimo von Oelhoffen.
Harrison felt strongly enough about Iwuoma that he spoke with former head coach Bill Cowher once a week about bringing Chidi back.
"At least once a week, yeah," Harrison said.
"Maybe a smile, a laugh, 'We're working on it, da, da, da,' " Harrison said.
Iwuoma has been re-signed for this season, presumably for a reason.
And Harrison's coach-player exchanges with Cowher's successor, Mike Tomlin, have begun to hit a little closer to home.
"I got a little hint from him that he might not have anything against starters playing special teams," Harrison said.
For the Steelers, the climb back from 8-8 can have no more appropriate starting point.
Although Iwuoma's back, the Steelers lost another former special teams stalwart this offseason when Sean Morey bolted for Arizona via free agency.
Morey, Iwuoma, Harrison, Keisel and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt had been the glue of the coverage units during the Steelers' Super Bowl season of 2005.
Tomlin wasn't around back then or last season, but he expressed an "all-hands-on-deck mentality" regarding special teams in February.
"If it requires starters being special teams players in certain situations or quite often, then we've got to be willing to do that," Tomlin said. "It's not going to be lip service. It's a legitimate phase of the game."
Should Tomlin find special teams legitimate enough to keep Harrison involved while he replaces Porter, and to re-incorporate Keisel as an integral figure in the kicking game then his point will have been made.
Until then the special teams will remain as potentially problematic as any aspect of the operation for the former Super Bowl champions.