Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is celebrating his 37th birthday on Monday and if I had to bet, that celebration will include him working out in some capacity.
Harrison, who will apparently have his snaps limited to about 25 a game this upcoming season, recently explained why he always seems to be in a weight room when he’s not on the field playing.
“It’s not a game where you are able to just come to work on Sunday and think that everything is going to just roll out the way it was planned,” said Harrison, according to Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest. “It’s a physical game. You have to put the physical work in to prepare to play.”
Even though Dick LeBeau is no longer the Steelers defensive coordinator, Harrison still remembers what his former coach and mentor told him as it relates to keeping himself in top physical condition at all times.
“Coach (Dick) LeBeau told us a long time ago, ‘I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you,’” said Harrison of how he keeps going so strong. “Through that prayer and preparing myself, God has blessed me. I have been able to be healthy and I have also prepared myself to be in position to do what I am doing.”
The Steelers drafted outside linebacker Bud Dupree Thursday night in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft and also added Miami’s Anthony Chickillo to the position group a few days later. Assuming that it will take Dupree a little time before he sees the field on a regular basis, the Steelers will likely use a rotation consisting of Harrison, Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats until the Kentucky product is ready to contribute.
Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter revealed Saturday evening that Harrison’s already been told that he will no longer be allowed to play 60 plays a game and he explained why.
“When you get to a certain age you really can’t,” said Porter. “Your mind will tell you you can. But Harrison is going to be a better player for us if I keep his snap count down to 25 snaps. I’ll get the best James Harrison I can out of him instead of trying to make him play like he was 25 (years old and) 60 snaps a game. He knows where he is. I know where he is. We have that relationship that he knows. I told him already, the James Harrison [of before] is over. He’s going to play his role and his role is going to be effective. He knows what we’re asking out of him and he’s going to be ready to answer the bell.”
In what figures to be his final season in the league, Harrison is now serving the team as a leader more than he ever has before and more than anything else, he’s leading with actions and not just words.
“Sometimes I get a little more vocal than others. But I try and lead by example and I think that is the best way to do things, Harrison said. “If guys happen to want to follow along and do the same thing you are doing, that is great.”
As we have seen so far this offseason, several of the young linebackers have been busy training with Harrison out in Arizona. Additionally, Dupree has already made it known that he’s a big fan of Harrison, so you can expect he’ll be following along as well.
Happy birthday, James.