Roethlisberger Claims Harrison Had No Clue Why He Didn’t Play Against Vikings


A lot has been made about Pittsburgh Steelers veteran outside linebacker James Harrison not playing a single snap in the team’s Sunday home win over the Minnesota Vikings. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explained during his Tuesday press conference that Harrison not playing Sunday was more of a result of fellow outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo currently being an ascending player on defense right now and a “hot hand” and why the team handled the position group rotation on Sunday in the manner that they did.

“In the meantime, we’re going to continue to roll people and play and play guys that we see fit and not do a real good job of maybe describing our mindset, or outlining their intentions, because part of it is gamesmanship and part of it will define itself as we move forward,” Tomlin said.

To hear Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talk during his Tuesday interview on 93.7 The Fan, Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers coaching staff probably didn’t outline their intentions to Harrison ahead of Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

“Yeah, I talked to him yesterday and just kind of asked like, ‘What’s going on, what happened?’ And he just gave me this look like, I have no clue,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday when asked if he’s had a chance to talk to Harrison about him not playing Sunday against the Vikings. “So, we talked a little bit about it, but there’s no real answers. He didn’t have any answers for me, so I dont know if he has any answers. So, I was kind of confused by it, but I’m not really sure what the reasoning was on it.”

While Harrison not playing Sunday after rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt was forced from the game in the first half because of a groin injury was probably a bit surprising to some, it’s important to remember that he only played 4 defensive snaps in the team’s Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns. Sure, the circumstances were different, but had Watt not gotten injured this past Sunday, Harrison might have remained on the Steelers sideline all game just the same.


Way ahead of the Steelers 2017 regular season getting underway, outside linebacker coach Joey Porter made it known that Watt and Bud Dupree would be the team’s starting outside linebackers in 2017 when healthy and that Harrison would likely be used as a “relief pitcher.” Had Chickillo not played as well as he did in place of an injured Dupree in the Steelers Week 1 win over the Browns, perhaps Harrison would have taken over for Watt on Sunday when he left the game injured.

Harrison said several weeks ago that he’ll play whatever role during the 2017 season that he’s asked to play. With that said, it sure doesn’t sound like he knows what that role is at this point and especially not ahead of Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

While Harrison and several fans of the team might be somewhat upset right now with the way the team has handled the linebacker’s playing time so far, at least he’s still fresh and ready for action. He’s probably going to have to play more at some point during the regular season for whatever reason and Tomlin pretty much indicated that on Tuesday.

“We appreciate James,” Tomlin said. “We know what James is capable of. James will ready himself. There will be a time in the season where we’ll call on his services and he’ll deliver and deliver in a big way, much like he did in the latter part of 2016.”

In the meantime and assuming Watt and the other currently injured players are healthy enough to play on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, you really have to wonder if Harrison might just wind up being a candidate for the Week 3 pre-game inactive list.

We already think we know that quarterback Joshua Dobbs, tackle Jerald Hawkins, guard Matt Feiler and wide receiver Justin Hunter are likely to be on that list and potentially along with one defensive lineman and one defensive back. Will Harrison be No. 7? The Steelers dressed all nine of their linebackers currently under contract against the Vikings and being as Harrison doesn’t play on special teams, it really makes you wonder if that will be the case. We’ll see and if that’s ultimately what happens, hopefully Harrison will be told way ahead of the inactive list being submitted.

  • TroymanianDevil

    A bunch of nothing.

    We’re going to use him sparingly throughout the season and have him ready to go for the playoffs. Maybe also a little bit more during that tough stretch of games during the regular season, or course if there are injuries.
    Stay ready Deebo!!

  • Conserv_58

    You hit the nail on the head, Dave when you reminded fans of what Joey Porter said regarding the pecking order and Deebo’s place in it. I remember some fans and some in the media questioned Joey’s decision and subsequent statement. Some were even saying Joey didn’t know what he was doing and needed to be replaced. Obviously, those fans are eating a lot of crow now.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they let Harrison play a few more snaps in the Ravens game.
    By the way (off topic) Is there a chance that that game get flexed into the night game?

  • Tasso222222

    Sorry, porter was out of line when he made those comments if nothing else for the fashion in which they were made. Disrespectful to do that to a guy who has bailed you out time after time and embodies what it means to be a steeler. Those discussions should be behind closed doors.

    Now we have Ben commenting on this for absolutely no reason whatsoever. He should keep his mouth shut on this. He’s violating the sanctity of the locker room by divulging this. There is absolutely nothing good that can come of what Ben said. It can only cause friction and allow the media to start making this a big deal. I would expect more of a veteran and captain of the time.

    Comments aside from big ben’s big mouth and porter showing no tact or respect, it’s really nice to see the young olb’s playing the way they are. There’s a delicate balance in a locker room I hope none of these unnecessary comments coming from porter/Ben disrupt it. If you want an example of how this should be handled look at Tomlin’s response — nothing but class and respect for Harrison.

  • Bradys_Dad

    No argument – but I think that there’s an assumption being made that Chick and/or anyone else for that matter would be or is playing better than Deebo had he actually played. That’s conjecture that I’m not willing to buy in to – not yet anyhow. I still think that there’s plenty of gas left in Deebo’s tank.

  • O’Neal

    I think flex scheduling doesn’t start till week 11 or 12. They don’t change times before that.

  • Mark

    No way, Moats would be on the list 1st. We saving Deebo for the stretch run and tough division games against Ratbirds, Cheatriots, and Titans etc… His time will come in a big way. No sense playing him against ChiTown and Jags.

  • george

    Yeah I don’t mind Chick taking snaps away from Debo if he’s the hot hand but NO WAY Debo sits while Moats plays.

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    Early in the season these snaps are really valuable especially for younger players. Harrison doesn’t really need these snaps and the coaches are trying to see what we actually have in chick

  • Bill

    I wish Ben would keep his lips off other players roles and and coaching decisions…just not needed. Like his broken toes etc. etc. etc.

  • george

    Might be a good idea. I really think Flacco is scared sh*tless of Debo and gets rattled when he’s in.

  • Big White

    That’s unacceptable. Neither the Browns nor the Vikings run a hurry up with any type of efficiency. That’s the only reaosn that great football player and STEELERS ICON should not see the field. Another Butler gaffe.

  • Froggy

    Oh for crying out loud, someone should have just talked with him. Keeping your employees informed about what is going on with their job roles is pretty basic management, no matter what business you are in. Tomlin prides himself on being a “servant leader,” but he and his fellow coaches have sure dropped the ball this time.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Harrison is a tightly wound ball. A coiled spring, begging for tension release. One can say that it is wise to let Harrison “rest” and not see the field at all until later this year. But, “when we need him” might cause that spring to rust. And I don’t have to remind you all what happens to a raging bull when he can’t have his release. Things turn chronically blue. It’s not good. There is NO REASON why we shouldn’t have specific instances when we should let Deebo eat. Once a game. 5 times a game. 10 times a game. 3rd and long… 4th downs… whenever he feels like it… the man should be out there contributing, because he can. I like our Defense and I appreciate what Chick has done, but c’mon. To never let him sniff the field and not keep him apprised of the plans? Asinine.

  • nutty32

    Keep in mind they had Jarvis Jones playing ahead of him last year, just for some perspective.

  • Sdale

    Exactly!

  • srdan

    He said the same thing last year.

  • srdan

    I think a part of it is that the OLBs are dropping in coverage a good bit. Heck TJ plays MLB sometimes.

    I do think there is something to saving him for when it matters as well. But if Chick keeps playing the way he has, I can’t figure out how James will get on the field.

  • The Tony

    I would be surprised to see James inactive this week. Chicago is going to try and run the ball and play the flats. I would really prefer to see James get some playing time this week since he has proven to be valuable at both aspects

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Oh ok! Makes sense!

  • Mike Lloyd

    Agreed-Let the Beast rage!
    Rage-rage against the dying of the light!

  • Biggie

    I understand starting Watt and Dupree now that he is healthy, even get playing Chickillo, but still don’t get not playing Harrison at all. He should at very least be getting a serious or two or situational time. He is to good and has capability to make big plays. He isn’t some 3rd team ST player, he is a proven commodity who can spell the younger guys without much if any drop in play. I’d even so go so far to play he and Chickillo these week and not rush Watt back to quick so he can fully heal instead of rushing him back.

  • O’Neal

    Actually, i was wrong. It starts at week 5 now they changed it a few years ago according to my google powers. Still to early for the ravens though

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Love me some #92 but Chico earned PT with 2.5 in the first 2 games. If profyouth needs to be served with PT to gain the experience and bring in the Silverback when needed. His approach, wisdom and leadership is a just as important as PT to a young productive group. Right now it’s good competitive group where everyone wants to be the man between #’s 48,56 & 90. 2 bones 3 dogs with some prime cuts for 92 when called upon.

  • AndreH

    Last year the Steelers couldn’t generate any pressure on the opposing teams quarterback, without blitzing a ton. This year with the emergence of Watt and Dupree on the outside creating constantly pressure will only make the Steelers better, especially on the backend. I say if ain’t broken why mess with the chemistry. Deebo time will come!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I just remember looking at the night game and it is trash. I think the colts is one of the teams playing.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Steelers have played TJ Watt too many snaps already this year, He played damn near the entire preseason, At this rate no way in hell does he make it through the season.

  • copanut

    Right. Everyone, including Deebo, knows he’s at the tail end of his remarkable run, and the first priority has to be getting reps to the young guys who are the future. If they start to wear out later in the season, Harrison can take more snaps giving the young guys a breather so they can be fresher for the playoffs. Seems like a smart strategy.

  • MC

    I understand you put your best player out there but Harrison is no drop off from Watt and a healthy rotation would keep them both fresh all year. Does Porter have beef with Harrison we don’t know about?
    Not seeing Harrison for a snap the whole game is alarming to me. You can still rotate and yet keep the OLBs in their rhythm to set up the tackles.

  • MC

    spot on.

  • Douglas Andrews

    It’s hard to argue with Chickillo moving ahead of James but I think Moats got a few snaps in this game ahead of James. I’m sure there’s a plan for James that probably includes not beating him up early in the regular season. I always think back to an old Coach Cowher quote..”We’re gonna need all these guys”. No doubt James will get his snaps but sounds like they will come later in the season.

  • The Truth

    It sounds like more poor decisions by Tomlin. Weren’t many fans saying this same junk last year when Jones was starting. It was clear Jones was a horrible, but that didn’t stop Tomlin from giving him the starting job and letting him keep it.

    The Steelers aren’t saving Harrison for post-season or anything else. He will remain on the bench behind Dupree, Watt, Chickillo and Moats.

  • Rocksolid20

    Save him for Brady and then turn him loose .

  • Rocksolid20

    Just don’t want him to get rusty .

  • Rocksolid20

    I agree Blount .

  • Rocksolid20

    Debo needs more than the few snaps Moats got .

  • Richard Lalau

    You should never ever do such negative thing as this to #92 James Harrison. If I was the Defense coordinator or HC, James would start every FE*_(##R game!!! Joey Porter, you better put James Harrison in with the 1st team defense and then you better apologizes to him. JH had saved the Mighty Steelers a couple years ago, so he deserved better and RESPECT!!!

  • Conserv_58

    Bah! Deebo knows the deal. For him to act surprised that Joey didn’t put him in the game is disingenuous at best. Joey told him what the plan was at the beginning of training camp. To Joey’s credit he didn’t expect T.J. and Chickillo to come out of the gate and play as well as they have been. I’m sure their success, especially Anthony’s changed Joey’s priorities and thus the pecking order. It’s unfair to Joey to think that he isn’t highly aware of Deebo’s need to get game reps. You can bet that now it’s been reported that the fan base is questioning why Deebo didn’t see any playing time, Joey will begin to slowly work Deebo into getting reps and rest assured, Deebo will get meaningful reps.

  • Conserv_58

    Joey Porter knows more than we do how many reps Deebo needs to be on his game.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I think you hit that one right on the head. They got to get him some work though. Give the old dog a bone. He has to stay in game shape, not just gym shape.

  • Conserv_58

    That’s quite the imagination you’ve got there. Reality disagrees with you. James may be a physical freak of nature at the age of thirty-nine, but even he admits that he feels father time tapping him on the shoulder. It’s only been two games. Joey will know when it’s time to get Deebo his reps, but it has to be done at the right pace.

  • Darth Blount 47

    So it takes Steeler Nation to grumble and gruff in order for our OLB coach to see that our potential future HOF LB’er might need to get a game or two in before we go and play the Ratbirds in Balty?! I hope not. I also don’t believe that is Peezy’s call. Though it might be. I’d think it was Butler’s or Tomlin’s, maybe. Regardless, you might be on to something since I’m prety sure the whole coaching staff regularly checks in here at The Depot. Normally that would be a real tongue-in-cheek statement in the past but after this off-season… well… Lol!

  • Dee Evolution

    Are you really Mel Blount?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Yes.

  • Lambert58

    He’s going to be real angry the next time he gets an opportunity. Look out! 🙂

  • gdeuce

    he’s 22, and he needs all the reps he can get

  • Ni mo

    Deebo is the back up to watt that’s what he was told , but they put chickilo in his spot that’s hey everyone is asking

  • Shane Mitchell

    Nope, its dumb, talkin bout a guy that played about 14 games in 3 years of college football, he will hit the wall like all rookies and get injured or become ineffective by the end of the season if they keep playing him as many dumbass reps as possible.

  • MC

    we better see some Harrison against the ravens. He always plays his best games against Flacco. I also don’t understand why moats got snaps in this last game and he didn’t To dress a guy and not give him one series is puzzling. Watt is young but we saw Bud hit the rookie wall and I hope Watt doesn’t suffer the same because we used him too much early on.

  • DAWAARE

    i like chickadillo.
    but i really wanna see harrison murder flaco

  • Applebite

    Not worried. Tomlin needs to see who he has on the roster for future references. Harrison, despite being who he is and what he does in the weight room, is not immortal. They’re playing this right. The young ones need to rise up and take control.

  • Alan Tman

    I really think that they have figured out the mistake they made last year. Play young inexperienced players early, and get them some experience. Then they can figure out how to make plays if they have the ability. Playing Moats in front of James is a head scratcher.

  • steeltown

    This

  • gdeuce

    he needs the reps because he is more inexperienced at the position than any other OLB on the roster

  • Dee Evolution

    C’mon now! I know the internet is full of look-alikes. This is THEE ORIGINAL SHUTDOWN CORNER? The one who made the NFL change the rules on pass defense? The Master of PRESS MAN COVERAGE that Pittsburgh hasn’t seen in ages?

  • Darth Blount 47

    🙂
    I learned way back in the early 80’s… Anytime someone asks you if you are a God, you say… YES!