Fatigue, Injury May Have James Harrison At Less Than Full-Speed Ahead

It wasn’t exactly much, or even for very long, but there was a moment during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the Chiefs on Sunday at which veteran outside linebacker James Harrison was positively gassed, to the point at which he came off the field late in the game. He was replaced for three snaps by Jarvis Jones.

In spite of that, Harrison refused to alter his daily workout regimen, finding himself in the training room in the early hours of the morning, even though the team’s plane had just touched down back in Pittsburgh a short time ago. It was there on social media for all the world to see.

And yet the 38-year-old did sit out of Thursday’s practice while nursing shoulder and triceps ailments, though he did return to ‘full’ yesterday for the final practice session, which is not as intense as the work that is done earlier in the week.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that we should read into the fact that he is listed as ‘questionable’—remember, there is no ‘probable’ status any longer, so if a player misses a practice due to a notable injury during the week he needs to be given some type of designation—but I do wonder if the tread on his tires might be somewhat limited for tomorrow’s game.

As far as I’m aware, Sunday’s game was the first time all season during which Harrison checked out of a game due to fatigue. Of course, he spent most of the season rotating behind Jones. But for the past month and a half or so, he has been taking essentially every snap at right outside linebacker, barring a blowout lead, which is what happened the week prior against the Dolphins.

Coming off the field due to fatigue is one thing. Sitting out a practice due to shoulder and triceps injuries is another. Taken in combination, I can’t help but wonder if he will be less effective than he needs to be, which means that we could potentially be looking at a situation in which he does get rotated in a bit during the game if necessary.

If the Steelers have any hope of making it to Houston, they are going to need Harrison to be at his best. He played a key role in their victory over the Chiefs, recording a sack, two key holds, including one that wiped a successful two-point conversion off the board, and three tackles for loss.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • srdan


  • Lambert58

    I wouldn’t bet against James Harrison. He’ll be ready to play.

  • Jaybird

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Jarvis for a series or two. He’s actually been playing better in his limited time since being benched. It almost looks like a light bulb went off in his head and he playing for a paycheck next year.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    You are correct and Silverback hates taking days off. So he certainly has a problem. However he will find a way to strap himself, use tape or a brace and get out there no matter what! Making as many tackles as he has from that position is excellent, plus he gets pressure. I fully expect him to do so in this game as he will not provide an excuse. Let’s just hope when he gets there it’s in 3rd down or making a splash play.

  • Jim Foles

    Whoever plays… Ben needs to play flawless and score 35 points… Bell needs to help.

  • Paddy

    If they have to score 35 they lose. They have to hold Brady to under 25

  • falconsaftey43

    Well Jarvis probably had the best game of his career earlier this season agaibst the Patriots. He beat Solder more than a few times.

  • Exactly what I was thinking. James Harrison knows what time it is. I’m not in any way worried about him

  • Jaybird

    Flawless? Boy your holding Ben to a high standard. Even the the great Brady and Rodgers threw picks last week .
    Ben will be fine Jim , and we are going to win. Gonna be a lot of happy Steeler fans Sunday night!

  • Jaybird

    Yeah I just commented that it wouldn’t be the end of the world to see Jones in for a series or two . He has been playing a little better since being benched , maybe it lit a fire .

  • Hypo Cycloid

    2nd to the Cleveland game anyways!

  • Jim Foles

    I feel a victory… Brady has escaped the season playing against average to below average qb’s… i think the pats losses are against a couple better qb’s…
    But…. Brady can read a defense.. If we play zone.. we lose.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    He absolutely balled out against KC. He was hustling with an urgency. I know from personal experience that I can play sports (lately tennis) at level that I can sustain, but when I need to close out the match or try to keep it going I push and that gasses me quick. It isn’t much more effort than I had been giving, but that little extra effort is all it takes to gas me. I imagine that is the same for most people and I believe that the case with JH. He was chasing Smith to his max and checked himself out immediately after that. I expect he just understood the situation and was going full tilt so rather than getting overall fatigued, it was situational fatigue. He will be fine as far as fatigue is concerned. Don’t know about these injuries though.

  • 20Stoney

    Agree about him looking better. It’s just hard to take Harrison off the field at this point. I wouldn’t mind at all having Jones back at the right price next season though.

  • Michael James

    Oh Matthew, never bet against Harrison, you should know better than that! 😉

  • Brian Tollini

    Please, someone get a hold of 92 and tell him their doubts about him being 100% Sunday.

  • capehouse

    When was he playing better? The Browns game? He wasn’t playing before that, and he’s played 7 snaps in the playoffs. Last time he was in defense before that was the Colts game I believe, and that was Dupree’s first game back where he played meaningful snaps. I think JJ had 4 mop-up snaps against the Phins and I know his 3 snaps against the Chiefs on their last offensive possession were uneventful. He’s been good on specialteams, but he’s still the same old Jarvis Jones. When he’s at the ROLB position you know you’re not getting any pressure from that side.

  • Todd Johnson

    Harrison will play…and will be the beast we all know and love PERIOD

  • Bob

    Must reroute Brady’s receivers off the line. You have to do something to allow the pass rush to get there. If you allow the WRs a free release, Brady will get the ball out too fast for anyone to get to him, and carve us up all day long.

  • nutty32

    Old man strength can not be underestimated.

  • Josh Gustad

    Knowing what we know about his work ethic and training he puts his body through, I’m in no way concerned about fatigue when it comes to James. That’s just silly.

  • JB Burgess

    Jones played well in the 1st qtr of the last Pats game.

  • JB Burgess

    Butler, don’t put Timmons on Edelman

  • capehouse

    That was before he was limited but as far as that game he’s played well against the run. Before the Browns game he had the most pass rushing snaps with the least amount of QB pressures in the ENTIRE league. Not sure how the Browns game skewed that stat.

  • Clutterbox

    I think taking a full practice on Thursday will have little or no effect on his conditioning for Sunday game. James went “full out” on that series and there was no problem for him to take a few plays off. If you really want to improve on his conditioning, he should be doing more cardio and less weightlifting, but given the position he plays he required to have a high body mass too. In any case, I don’t think nothing much would matter at this point of the season.

  • capehouse

    Twice with an inside swim move.

  • The Truth

    If Harrison can’t play the defense will collapse.

    I would rather see Chickillo in than Jones.

  • Frank Cordaro

    Harrison #92 does need a rest, like just for example he ran all over the field vs Miami and KC the man deserves a day off to charge up for Brady…but he’s Ready he’s coming to hunt.

  • Gizmosteel

    This reads like a TMZ article. Speculation based on speculation. Well done if this was the old oxygen channel.

  • Jaybird

    He did play well against the Browns and Joe Thomas. And I only said we’d be ok for a series or two. You gotta give Harrison a breather once in a while, especially against the Patriots. I’m sure they will be some no huddle.

  • Labrat0116

    Fatigued at the end of that game ? Yes. Fatigued during this week and NOT being 100% for the game against New England ? Not in a million years !

    James got fatigued at the end of that game because he is Debo and Debo gives 100% every play. He was giving 200% for that game and …. he’s only human.

    Debo “knows” precisely the value of a day off and rest from his workouts.

    He knows the human body (even his) must have this rest in order to repair itself and build new muscle tissue.

    Do not doubt Debo for one second that he will not be 100% rested for this game.

    His shoulder/tricep injuries are a separate issue.

  • Labrat0116

    Debo’s problem is NOT a lack of condition OR age. He does not need to do more cardio.

    He’s giving much more effort than he’s body is capable of. He is a Warrior to the core.

  • Labrat0116

    Especially over the middle with the dinks and dunks all day long. He’s done it to us for years.

    Our Defense is going to have to play “lights out” to shut down Brady.

  • Labrat0116

    Nice to see someone else understands this.

    James WILL be ready no doubt.

  • NinjaMountie

    He probably had a rough shoulder an tris workout the day before and was a little more sore than normal and sat out a practice.

  • SouthernSteel

    Is chickaloo playing ?

  • Mister Wirez

    Maybe he hurt his shoulder while lifting weights at 4AM while fatigued as hell from an NFL playoff game, plus having to fly home afterwards..

    Just sayin’.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I wonder if Matt understands or has ever experienced “fatigue”? Some people just have no way to understand the difference between the chronic and acute type. He makes it seem like because he was gassed its going to take 2 weeks to get his wind back. The shoulder / tricep thing is potentially a totally different animal. Ok… I am going to walk to the fridge and hope I can quickly recuperate from the fatigue.

  • Big White

    Jarvis Jones career game!!! 🙂

  • Craig Lafler

    the game was played in KC, where the air is thin. Many players have left KC fatigued for many years…

  • Jim Foles

    Correct… 35-18

  • Bill

    Who wrote this, Chicken Little?

  • NinjaMountie

    Huh? Are you confusing it with Denver? Maybe I’m missing a joke…it’s been known to happen.

  • Durango Snowman

    I’m pretty sure Harrison’s force of will, that same stuff that has him lifting at 4AM, will have him fully recovered and in beast form for what might be his last chance at another super bowl

  • pdupuis

    Send this article to the press in New Englamd and hope they buy it.

  • cencalsteeler

    Deebo playing mind games with Brady. Nothing to see here.

  • Don2727

    Just prior to him coming out, there was a play where he practically ran the entire field chasing Alex Smith..That’s what gassed him..Like it would anyone. Harrison will be OK I think. It’s Dupree who is going to be the X factor in this one. We need a great game from #48.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I think JJ should play 15-20 snaps, mostly in run scenarios. Brady gets rid of the ball quick so the outside guys will often get neutralized anyways.

  • Interestingly, he drew the holding call that saved our two-point lead after taking a break, catching his breath, and returning to the field. Apparently he was only temporarily gassed…thankfully!!!

  • Matt Manzo

    So true!

  • Matt Manzo

    I’d bet he gets a few more plays than normal. Maybe take advantage of his cover skills. I heard one caller on SNR say that he thinks Jones will play a big part in this game! I’m not so sure about that, but maybe playing for a paycheck will provide some kinda burst.

  • Matt Manzo

    It’s gonna be a great off season topic! How much ST does Jones play? I’m using Moats’ pay as a measuring stick, but I’m not so sure he’s worth that much.
    Where would you start the bidding?

  • nutty32

    Jim Marshall was a starting DE into his 40’s.

  • MK

    Never under estimate the heart of James Harrison… he will be ready to go. You can bet on that in prop bets.

  • Bryan Ischo

    Then Ben/Bell only need to score 19, no?

  • deuce_seven

    Hopefully Hines brings his hyperbaric chamber.

  • treeher

    He sat down after an all out sprint across the field to chase down the QB. Not an issue. More concerned about flu bug.

  • Mark, did’nt you predict steelers would lose last week? If so, your credibility is suspect.

  • dany

    could you imagine? His first round will be like so worth it immediately

  • Clutterbox

    I didn’t say he had a lack of conditioning and think he is beyond fine.
    That said everyone should do more cardio in their workouts training if possible. It can greatly increase your stamina. I too would rather lift all day than run on a treadmill for a few hours. However, he know his body reaction better than anyone and think he doing great this year.

  • SteveM2


  • Rocksolid20

    Of course he his , Harrison knowing this could be his last game will be ready and you can bet will bring his A game .

  • John

    Rotate Jones in a little more early in the game. Jones has plenty of NFL experience and can make some plays. He may not be the guy you want on the field in the fourth quarter but some early second quarter snaps should be no big deal.

  • He’ll be 100%.

  • Conserv_58

    The Sky Is Falling!

    Please, Matthew I’m not worried about 38 year old Deebo not being physically or mentally ready to introduce patrots’ players to their home turf. Deebo is highly aware of what’s at stake. He wants that seventh Lombardi in the team’s trophy case.

  • The Truth

    I would rather have Chickillo rotate in than Jones. Jones brings nothing.

  • Conserv_58

    I’m not sure that Chickillo’s ankle is at 100%.

  • firefromheaven

    What a simplistic reply, from a simple minded person. SMH

  • Matthew Marczi

    He did well against Solder in 2015 as well. I would say easily two of his best pass-rushing games of his career, certainly well up there among the (many) games in which he didn’t record a sack.

  • Steve

    Matthew – If you check the play, when James came off the field. James went back into coverage and all the suddenly sprinted after the QB, who took off away from James, to the QB right. On that play James ran a full sprint pretty near 100 yards, which is no easy feat for a 38 year old man of his size.

  • Steel B

    Come on big fella. Suck it up for 2 more games. Deebo!!!!

  • Steve

    One thing Jones lacks is setting the edge. Against the Fins they ran all day to his side around end and Jarvis could do nothing to stop them. Do we want the Pats to do the same, cause if Jarvis is in, I am sure Blount will have a field day rushing around Jarvis end, cause he lacks setting the edge.

  • Steve

    Jim – Zone is what the Steelers play the majority of time in the nickle and dime.

  • Steve

    That’s Jarvis one move, the inside swim. That also when they run around him for some chunks of yardage.

  • Jon Aranowski

    click bait

  • Jaybird

    Every single Steeler sucked against the Dolphins not just Jones. I’m not a fan of Jones , nor do I hope he plays a lot. But I’d rather see Jones out there for a series or two than an exhausted and spent James Harrison. James might not be able to go 60-70 snaps. We all like to think he’s super man , but the dude might need a breather once in awhile.

  • Jim Foles

    We need a Ryan Clark over the middle.

  • Bryan Ischo

    I don’t think you comprehend what you are reading.

  • firefromheaven

    I don’t think you think. I’ve yet to see you post a logical coherent thought. Calling you simple minded was actually a huge complement.

    There are plenty of reasons that it may be necessary to produce more than 19 points. You may have to take a lead to get them out of their game plan and play catch up. A lead will make them be able to attack Brady. If NE keeps it close then it is a different ball game.

    So that’s why your smartass answer showed your complete lack of intelligence. What a tool.

  • ahj_2000

    Just give Jarvis some more plays…. I think he will do better than people think. He is fresh and motivated.

  • Bryan Ischo

    Yeah you still have no idea what I said or what I said it. I guess it went way over your head. Anyway, you clearly cannot post without insulting needlessly, so welcome to my blocked list.

    On the way to the block user page I have to go through your list of recent posts. Holy crap you really love to insult people. Every post is acerbic and full of insults. Yeah I’m not going to miss seeing your drivel for sure.

  • Craig Lafler

    lol no Ninja, you haven’t missed a thing. I am confusing it with Denver! Haha. Never been to either place.