It’s taken a few weeks, but Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison seems to be about where he needs to be from a football conditioning standpoint and that’s great news for a defense that has had problems getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks during the first half of the season.
Following the Steelers Sunday win at Heinz Field over the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Mike Tomlin made sure to throw some praise at the direction of Harrison, who recorded his first sack of the season in the game.
“It was great to see James Harrison showing glimpses of James Harrison,” said Tomlin. “He’s worked his tail off to kind of get to this spot. He’s starting to show us what he’s capable of.”
Harrison, who was signed prior to the Week 4 game after the team lost starter Jarvis Jones to a wrist injury during their win over the Carolina Panthers, admitted after the game Sunday that he’s all but knocked off all of the rust that he accumulated during the offseason following his March release from the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’ve had an opportunity to get my feet back under me,” Harrison said Sunday, according to Mike Prisuta. “I feel like I can move a little bit better, I’ve lost a few pounds. This is basically Week Five for me so it’s sorta like coming out of preseason. I’m feeling a little better, but I still have a little way to go.”
While Harrison is more than likely going to continue rotating with Arthur Moats at the right outside linebacker spot until Jones is ready to return to action, it’s going to be hard to keep him off of the field in obvious pass rushing situations moving forward.
We’ve seen Harrison’s ability to get after the opposing quarterback really ramp up over the course of the last two games and while he was only officially credited with one sack Sunday, he really should be given credit for another half of one. Sacks aside, Harrison knows the most important thing that he can do is to provide constant pressure.
“No quarterback throws well with pressure on him,” he said.
The Steelers next game is Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, who now have left tackle Eugene Monroe back after he missed four games with a knee problem. Monroe didn’t give up a sack, hit or pressure in his first game back Sunday against the Bengals, so Harrison and Moats will both have their hands full.