Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers who showed up for the team’s Sunday night Family Fest practice at Heinz Field got an extra bonus as veteran outside linebacker James Harrison traded in his full grey sweats for a helmet and pads for the first time since the team reported to training camp a little more than two weeks ago.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2017
Harrison, who during pre-practice fan introductions exchanged jersey tops with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the delight of the more than 17,000 in attendance, eventually traded back for his No. 92 and took part in some of Sunday night’s practice. After the reportedly physical session was over, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the reasoning behind letting Harrison finally partake in a practice.
“I chose to allow him to participate tonight,” Tomlin started. “You know, we’re coming here into Heinz Field in front of our fans, we had short yardage and goal-line, it just seemed like the type of characteristics you want to take the wrapper off 92 for.”
So, what does the immediate future hold for Harrison when it comes to the rest of training camp and the preseason?
“I’ll play it by ear,” Tomlin said.
It’s not out of the question that Harrison will now continue to practice during the rest of training camp with an occasional maintenance day mixed in. Training camp is now half over, after all, and with the team being off on Monday, Sunday night was indeed a great time to let Harrison practice in full pads for the first time this year.
In case you forgot, Harrison played in the Steelers first three preseason games last year and that resulted in 43 total defensive snaps played. He, like several other starters, predictably sat out the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. In short, chances are pretty good that Harrison will play a few snaps Friday night during the Steelers 2017 preseason opener against the New York Giants.