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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Harrison back in the fold

The Steelers re-signed linebacker James Harrison to a two-year deal on Sunday, alleviating some of the depth issues the team had at outside linebacker.

Harrison had tweeted Saturday that he was still deciding between signing with the Steelers or Titans, where he would have been reunited with former Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

But the Titans had already signed Brian Oropko and Derrick Morgan to big money deals this offseason, meaning Harrison would have been a backup there.

In Pittsburgh, he'll be counted on as a starter - at least to open the season - though he'll likely move to  left outside linebacker opposite Jarvis Jones.

The Steelers also will be in the market for an edge rusher early in this year's draft - somebody who Harrison, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, can help mentor.

Harrison turns 37 in May but was signed by the Steelers three weeks into the 2014 season after Jones suffered a dislocated wrist in a win at Carolina.

He wound up with 5.5 sacks in limited playing time, splitting action with Arthur Moats, who also was re-signed two weeks ago.

Harrison also has been working out with a number of the Steelers linebackers, including Jones, in Arizona this offseason.

The Steelers were about $8.5 million under the NFL salary cap prior to the signing of Harrison.

His deal is likely worth about $1.5 to $2 million this season.


Anonymous said...

Dale, you say He'll likely be moved to the left side and Kaboly says Colbert said it's unlikely he moved to the left and Jarvis might be the one that moves. Tend to trust u better, so I hope what you say is what happens. Harrison has always been a beast against the run, moving him to the strong side can only accentuate those abilities in him, and allow a potential breakout of Jarvis (or an early OLB pick) to pass rush more on the right side

Dale Lolley said...

We'll see. I'm not at the owner's meetings, so what I'm hearing is hearsay.

Dulac reported that Colbert told him Moats is currently the starter on the left side and that Harrison hasn't played the left side.
But he filled in there for Haggans early in his career.

Jones is certainly better in coverage, but he's going to have to get stronger if he wants to play on the strong side.

Anonymous said...

And you see that makes more sense, Harrison looks the part of a strong side linebacker more than Jones, even if he himself doesn't look the part of a weakside just yet! So it stroke me ass odd that Colbert (reportedly) would say that

i'll stick with what dale thinks!

marc said...

it's gonna be real interesting to see how this plays out in training camp. will Harrison stay on the right and moats beat out jones on the left? will Harrison beat out jones on the left and moats start on the right? will jones/moats start and Harrison be the primary backup? will a new (high pick) draftee win a starting job?

datruth4life said...

How much of a step forward do you think HoJo will take this year and what was your first impression of Lemon? Does the former CFL linebacker pass the eye test for Steelers OLBs? From the photos of the LBs working out in Arizona, it looks like Shazier has packed on some size. Steelers need a really big year out of him. If the Steelers go with your choice at CB in the first round Kevin Johnson, what pass rusher catches your eye for the Steelers in the 2nd round?

Dale Lolley said...

I haven't seen Lemon yet. Probably won't until after the draft when mini-camps start.

Jones flashed some in training camp and the preseason, but to be honest, I didn't notice him much in practice last year during the season. That's not out of the ordinary, though. He was running other teams stuff in in-season practices on the show team and there's very little true contact.

The problem they are going to have with Harrison is that they don't want him to have to drop into coverage. If he's on the strong (left) side with the tight end, that is going to happen at times more than it will on the weak side.

And Jones, in my opinion, isn't strong enough to hold up on the left side, though he's probably their best coverage linebacker among the outside guys.

They could end up mixing and matching those guys based on down and distance, etc.

But Harrison has played the left side. He started three games there in 2004 when Haggans was down. He was the backup on both side back then.

It will all mesh itself out this offseason. And they'll draft a guy as well. Many of the outside linebacker types they've looked at are more strongside guys - bigger pass rushers.

As for second-round guys, I'd look at Harold, if he falls, and Kikaha. Davis Tull has interesting measurable, but I haven't watched his film yet.

Joe Jones said...

Agreed. We don't need a complete nfl player when it comes to getting a pass rusher on day 2.

We just need someone who can speed-rush on 3rd down, even if they're weak against the run.

Kikaha is exactly who I was thinking of.
I think Dupree will be gone by the 10th pick in the second round. But I also don't think he's what we need right now.
Dupree is in development for the long-run.
Kikaha prob won't last long in the nfl, but we'd have a pass rush specialist for 2015 while he's young and wild.

Joe Jones said...

Also wouldn't suprise me if they take Dupree 1st round and pass on a R1CB... it's Colbert.

But if the plan is R1CB & day 2 pass rusher, I agree that we don't need a high-potential guy as much as just a speed rusher unleashed.

Noel said...

Bob McGinn's draft preview has a snippet of a quote from a scout who doesn't think any of the corners are worth a first round selection. Only one opinion but it's interesting. Personally I would like to see them trade down but who's to say anyone will want the 22 spot that badly.

As well as Harrison played I thought Worilds' sack numbers were depressed partly because one of them had to cover and he was much better at it than Harrison at this point. That one-dimensionality is still the downside of him on some plays and will still affect his linebacking partner on the other side IMO. I'm thrilled he's back but my expectations are tempered by that. I think we'll see some nice things from the linebackers this season though, especially with the D-line maturing and hopefully staying healthy.

Anonymous said...

Jones is not good at coverage. At all.

Worilds may have dropped into coverage more than the other 3 OLBs, but the difference is nominal/negligible. PFF is POO, their numbers are off.

Worilds was most often on the TE side. And contrary to what you read, the Steelers D spent more time in their base 34 than their nickel. So Worilds has to engage the TE and read/diagnose the play before he can commit to his pass responsibilities. In playaction, he has to engage the TE while trying to determine run/pass. And in a short drop while he's initially engaged with the TE, he see's the short drop so he knows he can't get to the QB and holds the TE so he can't release while sniffing out the screen or smoke route. And Worilds was the only OLB used as a spy. Most specifically the Carolina game where they used him to spy on Newton 9 times. None of those things are actually coverage drops. They're not really pass rushes either. They're neither. But as generous as I was at crediting coverage drops I still couldn't get them up to the percentage PFF claims. The only thing I didn't count as a coverage drop was the times when Jones would turn his back and book to his zone..... on run plays. No, seriously.

Noel said...

The other big problem with PFF is dinging the wrong guys for giving up big plays like Woodley instead of Timmons for the long TD against OAK or Ike for a TD where Polamalu bit on a route. They can't possibly know who is responsible for which gap or which coverage. Can't put much faith in their defensive ratings; don't know enough about offense to have an opinion on their reliability there.

Anonymous said...

PFF isn't right all the time but they are right often enough for their play tracking to have value.

I'll take their attempt at objectivity over the average yinzer cheerleading anyday.