Porter On Harrison: ‘You Want To See A Little Bit To Make Sure He’s Still Got It’

Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter made a lot of waves on Monday when he said that youngsters Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt are currently the planned starters this year and that veteran James Harrison would essentially be used as a relief pitcher should either of the two need a break during games. After Monday’s practice was over, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wouldn’t confirm or deny Porter’s perceived plan and only said that Harrison would play as many snaps as he can handle and that he’s currently unsure what that number will ultimately be.

So far during training camp and the preseason, Harrison hasn’t done much of anything. In fact, he’s only put the pads on once and that was for limited work during the team’s Fan Fest practice at Heinz Field well over a week ago. In case you forgot, the Steelers took the proverbial wrapper of Harrison much earlier last year during training camp and that included him playing in the team’s first three preseason games.

With training camp coming to a close later this week, Porter was asked during a Monday morning interview on Steelers Nation Radio if he needs to see Harrison at all this week at Latrobe.

“Well, I need to see him around just to make sure hes soaking up the stuff we’re talking about because a lot things we do can change day-to-day,” Porter said. “I like him being around the guys and seeing what he sees. It’s always good to have an extra set of eyes out there, but actually seeing him work, no.”

Harrison apparently hasn’t been spotted at practice the last few days and when Tomlin was asked the reason for that following Mondays practice, he didn’t really provide much insight.

“We’ve got an alternate program for those guys in their late 30s,” Tomlin quipped.

Porter, however, went on to indicate that he would like to see a little bit more from Harrison prior to the preseason ending.

“We know what he can do, but at the same time, you want to see a little bit to make sure he’s still got it,” said Porter of Harrison. “Everybody has to be tested to see if he still got it. We can assume something, but this NFL thing, sometimes you just wake up one day and that pop is gone. There will be a time when we take the wrapper off of him and let him go out there to see is it still the playoff James from last year.

“Now, if it’s still that guy, we know exactly what it is. But it’s been a little time since then, so, just hoping you’ve got that and knowing it are two different things. Now, he works out like I think he still is that guy, but until we take the wrapper off of him and put him out there, we’ll play it by ear.”

While several seem to be speculating that Harrison is in the process of being run out of Pittsburgh right now and that his spot on this year’s 53-man roster isn’t as safe as many thought it was just a few days ago, Porter’s current plan for how he ultimately sees the rotation working out at outside linebacker in 2017 doesn’t really indicate anything like that.

“We have a plan set up and then if something happens, the plan can always change and right now,” Porter started. “The plan is get them young guys going, because they are our future with Bud and T.J. and Chickillo, and the other guys who are going to play. But at the same time, if they’re not playing to the standard, then we bring in the righty [Harrison], we bring in the old man.

“So, if we have to pull him off to close out a game, we will, but going in, that’s not the intention. That’s why he hasn’t taken any reps. The intention is to let the young guys eat up the reps. We’ve seen him at 15 training camps, so we know what he can do, but at the same time, if the young guys cant run him off, then that’s what happens.”

Sure, Harrison is 39-years old and while he is no longer and every down player, he still has value to the Steelers. Keep in mind that Watt is still a rookie who needs a lot of development and that Dupree has still yet to show he can be a week in and week out producer on the left side. While Porter might be hoping that both Watt and Dupree will play and produce during a high percentage of snaps in 2017, it’s still just hope until it actually happens. In fact, Porter admitted Monday that Dupree is currently dealing with a minor injury right now as is Chickillo.

The Steelers will play their second preseason game on Sunday and hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Dupree on the field with Watt. Chickillo also needs some work in that contest. As for Harrison playing Sunday night, it seems highly unlikely that he will unless he practices three consecutive days starting on Wednesday. If Harrison doesn’t ultimately play Sunday night against the Falcons, one would think the Steelers will finally unwrap him ahead of their third preseason game.


  • francesco

    Harrison should work on a spin move.
    If he will…i can see 10 sacks coming.

  • thomas hmmmm

    The only thing stopping Harrison from 10 sacks is his speed, which I don’t think he can improve on at his age. Even with the lost step I would still like to see him on the team and playing a decent amount. I do think its better that he come off the bench.

  • Dshoff

    We have to worry about both Harrison and Watt’s longevity this year. Harrison because of age, and Watt because of the rookie wall. That’s why I would not play Watt as much as possible. Even it out so both are playing at the end of the year.

  • NickSteelerFan

    If Harrison comes in as a relief for Dupree, would he play the left side or would Watt switch and Harrison play the right?

  • Steelers12

    Joey Porter ought to hope Harrison play 3 more years because Harrison could take his job

  • Steelers12

    best assessment i seen on Harrison

  • NCSteel

    Don’t worry Joey, Harrison was home working out, eating right and getting acupuncture in a hyperbaric chamber while you were out embarrassing yourself and the team fighting outside of clubs.
    Joey’s a clown, period.

  • He made it this far without a spin move. Besides, most pass rushing coaches aren’t a fan of spin moves as they require you to take your eyes off the QB momentarily.

  • WreckIess

    Not too worried about a rookie wall with Watt. That typically comes from guys who don’t quite know the work it takes to get through an NFL season. TJ has one of the greatest defensive players of all time to teach him how to stay fresh throughout a season.

  • Jimbo

    Porter seems anxious to demote deebo. . Sending him a messge through the media ,,kinda chicken S**t.

  • Jimbo

    it does seem like porter is trying to sit deebo. even last year,
    he is jealous deebo is better than him. time for harrison to take his job

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Isn’t this the same thing Porter said last preseason regarding Jarvis Jones?

    Porter has a serious personal vendetta against Harrison. It dates back to 2007 when Porter was “released” so that Harrison could take his job. Porter keeps saying Harrison is too old. And Harrison keeps proving him wrong.

    In my opinion, you simply rotate all 3 OLB’s with equal snaps to keep them all fresh.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    LMAO. Porter poking at the wasps nest.

  • Sheri Yarborough

    This dude is a hater. Just because he couldn’t play until he was 40?

  • pittsburghjoe

    I wish they got rid of Porter last year after the Southside incident. He continues to prove to be a liability to the organization. Tomlin apparently is letting it ride… How many chances do they give this guy. Even if what he said is true, you do not announce it in public, let alone humiliate James. Who is Porter to send JH a message through the media.

  • Mrs Bighead

    Love ya Peezy, but be quiet

  • nutty32

    Talking out of turn is not that huge of a deal to be fired? Drama Queens gon’ Drama Queen…

  • LucasY59

    I dont see what Porter said as negative, I think both statements could be true, and I think the performance by the players on the field is what determines what the snap counts will look like

    IF Harrison is playing like a beast he will get snaps (they have tried to take snaps away or keep him on a count and he has outperformed those plans) but I also think it is wise to keep him fresh for the WHOLE season (and hopefully into February) so getting Watt in the game is a good idea as well (he needs the experience to develop and transition into a NFL OLB, which like Peezy said was the reason they drafted him in the 1st)

    from what I have seen TJ will be able to perform at a lvl that makes it a positive to have him in the game and hopefully much better than the situation with Jarvis, its good if both guys can play well

  • SilverSteel

    The only thing keeping Harrison from getting 10 sacks is reps and literally getting held on every other play without a call. I have never seen such blatant no calls. Imagine my surprise when they actually called it in the KC game last year in POs.

  • Steelmania

    If TJ plays like gangbusters Harrison should retire and replace Porter so he can hang out on the Southside all he wants!

  • Big White

    Maybe Porter can beat up some innocent door man to show us he still has it.

  • Steelmania

    Porter is no James Harrison even in his hey day – minute Harrison retires the Steelers need to fire Porter and hire James!

  • pittsburghjoe

    Its not just talking out of turn, after getting a second chance (southside) he should tow the line.

  • Jaybird

    The only thing keeping Harrison from getting 10’sacks is TJ Watt and being 40 years old. He’s going to be special and get the majority of snaps as long as he stays healthy. I love James but he is nearly 40 and he’s not the same player anymore.

  • nutty32

    p.s. – was calling JP a drama queen & not you, sorry for any confusion.

  • will

    I see Dupree struggling and Watt playing left and Deebo coming in on the right.

  • SilverSteel

    I understand where your coming from but he looked highly competitive just a few minths ago. He is still abusing tackles.

  • Delboka

    He helped out in that Bengals / Steelers playoff game.

  • Delboka

    Or James can’t break a locked door down down in his house and slap his girl friend.

  • Delboka

    Everyone hating On Joey.

    Guy punked out Warren Sapp pregame, walked on the Ravens bus post game and punked them trash talkers.

    Now everyone feels sorry for a doorman? come on the dude had a few too many.

    James is old. How many of you would cry if he was staring over Watt?

  • NCSteel

    Spot on Jimbo

  • Jimbo

    we have 1 or maybe 2 years of Ben left. I would not hand Watt anything. if he beats deebo out by ability, the better player wins. And porter can go pound it and let deebo take over.