Steelers News

Harrison Fine With Potential 2017 Backup Role: ‘Whatever It Is They Ask Me To Do’

If the Pittsburgh Steelers are indeed already set on starting rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt over veteran James Harrison come Week 1, the latter has yet to be told that’s the plan.

“I just found this out when ya’ll told me,” Harrison said Wednesday morning when he addressed the media at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe concerning what Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter said a few days ago about him being a relief option for the team in 2017 behind rookie T.J. Watt and third-year player Bud Dupree.

Harrison was later reminded that Porter said a few years ago that he would have a snap count limit on him ahead of the 2015 season getting underway and how that plan ultimately went to the wayside.

“That’s what they felt at the time that’s what it’s going to be and it turned out to not be that. So, things changed,” Harrison said

Harrison, who as usual gave the media quite a few short answers to their questions Wednesday morning, was asked if his thoughts coming into training camp this year were that he would be the backup to both Watt and Dupree.

“Whatever it is they ask me to do,” Harrison said.

While Harrison said he’s fine with whatever his role ultimately is in 2017, he admitted that his production could ultimately suffer if he’s not playing a large amount of snaps during a game.

“The more I’m in there, the more productive I can be,” he said

He also admitted that not being on the field a lot could potentially hurt his ability to set opposing tackles up for certain pass rush moves.

“Yeah, yeah of course it’s harder,” he said.

Harrison, who has only had one limited practice in pads since training camp opened, was asked if he’s close to working more regularly.

“I hope so, we’ll see,” he said.

While Harrison is now the franchise’s all-time sack leader and he would like to add to that number in 2017, stats are the furthest thing from his mind entering the season.

“I want to get another Super Bowl trophy, I want to get another Lombardi. That’s it,” he said.

Harrison said that he has still hasn’t decided if he’ll play past 2017 but that he does feel fine right now and really no different than he did a year ago. He was then asked if playing at 40 years of age is still something he might like to do.

“I’m thinking of going to 40 if I can go to Vegas for the 40,” he said. “The Oakland Raiders team, that Las Vegas Raiders team.”

I’m not really sure what he meant by that as he’s currently under contract with the Steelers through the 2018 season. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Harrison is ultimately used not only come the start of the regular season, but during it as well. For now, he’ll just do what the Steelers coaches tell him to do and if that means him staying in grey sweats the remainder of training camp, he seems fine with that.

“I’m not going to argue about not practicing in training camp,” Harrison quipped.

Even so, Harrison knows he still needs time to get himself into football shape nonetheless.

“I think it’s hard for anybody to get into football shape,” he said. “I mean, it’s going to take you a couple of weeks, because you’ve got to get used to the pads, fighting a guy with pads on, running and all that other stuff. You can run with a weight vest, everything else, it’s still a lot different once you get in there with pads on.”

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