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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    James Harrison gets his shot at big role

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07207...?cmpid=HBEHTML

    Former backup linebacker special teams ace James Harrison gets his shot at big role.

    In the old days, when people did such things, James Harrison would be the guy in the crowd to volunteer to wrestle the bear.

    He is crazy enough to take on the task, strong and smart enough to accomplish it. He does it, after all, every day in practice and soon will do it every Sunday for the Steelers. He wrestles bears, in this case big ol' offensive tackles who could smother him with their size, if they could ever get hold of him.

    Harrison stands slightly over 6 feet, and he has a tall order in coach Mike Tomlin's first edition of a Steelers team. Harrison will replace Joey Porter, whose reputation by word and action on the field left a vapor trail all the way to Miami that won't soon disappear.

    Porter was admired by teammates, hated by opponents and adored by fans who loved how he backed up taunts to players such as Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens and teams such as the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals.

    Harrison has not been much of a taunter, publicly, but he has done well at backing things up. He is more than the guy who body-slammed a Browns fan on the field in Cleveland on Christmas Eve 2005. He has been the Steelers' best special teams player and No. 3 linebacker for three years. Now, he gets a shot for his personal big show, replacing Porter's big shoes at right outside linebacker.

    "I'll do my best to uphold that and do better," Harrison said. "Anybody can talk the talk until you walk the walk."

    Harrison has been the Steelers' little secret the past several years, but, at 29 years old, he could become an overnight sensation. He has been especially productive when thrust into starting jobs for injured starters Clark Haggans and Porter. There was the memorable game, again in Cleveland in 2004, when Porter was ejected before kickoff for a pregame fight. Harrison started instead and had a sack, a pressure, a pass defensed and six tackles.

    Most everyone knows the story how Harrison made the team, a free agent from Kent State who knocked on the Steelers' door twice in two years only to get turned away. He played in NFL Europe and was released by Baltimore in the summer of his third year of trying to make the NFL. The Steelers only picked him up a week before training camp that year (2004) because Haggans had a broken hand and they needed another camp linebacker.

    He has been with them since.

    He has the mean streak of Jack Lambert, a notable Kent State alum, and, surprisingly, about the height of former All-Pro Greg Lloyd.

    "He has a toughness that's been indicative of the Steelers' defense for a while," said linebackers coach Keith Butler. "He's a tough, physical player, a strong player. He brings a tenacity, too."

    That fierce resolve, early on, frightened a coach or two, who weren't sure if they would end up like that wayward Browns fan. At 242 pounds, Harrison packs powerful leverage that can give him an advantage over tackles 7 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier.

    "It's hard to keep him from getting underneath them and penetration or pressure from the edge," Butler said. "His height is probably an advantage for him."

    "You have to use that leverage," Harrison said. "You have a guy who sometimes outweighs you by 100 pounds, the only thing you can use is your leverage, and, with my height, I feel it's an advantage for me."

    The bigger question about Harrison is not will he produce, but will he last. He never has started more than four games in a season and now the Steelers plan to use him on special teams as well.

    "You can't pace yourself," Harrison said. "That's why we went out and drafted a couple of guys. If you get tired, we want to have somebody to step in there for a few plays and give you a little break."

    The Steelers drafted two outside linebackers in the first two rounds, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. Timmons is listed on the depth chart behind Harrison and, as long as there is progress, it usually does not take long before the star rookie gets more playing time. Perhaps, Timmons will spell Harrison, particularly in pass-rushing situations.

    Harrison isn't worried about what's behind him, but what's ahead.

    "Can he hold up for all that? I don't know if anybody can," Butler said. "But that will be up to [Tomlin] and that'll be up to the special teams coach. My concern is how he plays linebacker, and I think he'll do well."
    I'm really excited to see what James is going to be able to do with his shot at the starting job. He's got the Steeler linebacker mentality for sure, and he's got the toughness, now it's up to him to stay healthy.

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    That fierce resolve, early on, frightened a coach or two, who weren't sure if they would end up like that wayward Browns fan. At 242 pounds, Harrison packs powerful leverage that can give him an advantage over tackles 7 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier.


    I love it!!

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    I had the opportunity to meet him on draft day. Got my pic taken with him and he also signed a copy of a pic of him taking down that Brown's fan. He seemed like a great guy.....humerous....but I definately wouldn't want to make him mad. Hope he does well.

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    I really want to see him succeed but there is something about him that worries me... I know he's a big strong guy but I think it's his height because he's not a very tall dude He can play though I'll give him that I just wish he was a little bit taller

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    Draft Pick manofsteel's Avatar
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    Hew did real well in sitiuations when he had to and at key times as well I like Harrison to come in and not skip a beat

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    I love what James H does everytime he steps on the field! You can definitely see that he comes in with "attitude". It's the kind that says "Get outta my way, or I'm comin THROUGH you"

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ_Steeler View Post
    I really want to see him succeed but there is something about him that worries me... I know he's a big strong guy but I think it's his height because he's not a very tall dude He can play though I'll give him that I just wish he was a little bit taller
    As long as he does'nt think it's a problem, thats all that matters.

    "You have to use that leverage," Harrison said. "You have a guy who sometimes outweighs you by 100 pounds, the only thing you can use is your leverage, and, with my height, I feel it's an advantage for me."

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    Stay healthy!


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    i really think hes gonna be great, as much as i would like to see both our rookies be ready to go from day one, im excited to see harrison show us what he can do because the dude is a playmaker and can play both outside and inside

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    James Harrison is one of the key players to the Steelers season.....He must get consistent pressure on the QB......Both him and Haggans........The only question on Harrison is he has never started a 16 season.....With that said though he will have young LBs behind him to give him a blow from time to time.......So I expect Harrison to have a very good season......I think 10+ sacks for Harrison this year.......

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