Re-Thinking James Harrison’s Return to Pittsburgh

HarrisonI told Daniel Dudley on Trib-Live Radio yesterday that I didn’t think it was a good idea to bring James Harrison back to the Steelers for a final go-round. 24 hours later I’m re-thinking my position just a bit but I’m still not ready to say “yes, bring him back.”

The reason I’m having some second thoughts is that Jason Worilds has done very little in Organized Team Activities to this point due to an injury. Reports from around the Steelers’ media indicate that the injury appears to be a calf problem.

The seriousness of the injury isn’t known, but it brings up some serious questions that I know I and many others had when the Steelers chose to offer him the transition tag which he quickly signed.

Worilds showed some good promise over an eight-game stretch, but the rest of his career has been hampered by injuries and very average play on the field. It’s a scary thought to ponder but what if Worilds can’t go when the season starts? Is Dick LeBeau prepared to go with Chris Carter? Does he have a plan to move Arthur Moats to that spot?

This is where my re-thinking of James Harrison comes in. 

At 36 years old, Harrison is not exactly a spring chicken in football parlance and he is coming off a year that he played in Cincinnati after he spurned a pretty fair offer from the Steelers. Harrison’s play in Cincinnati last year was not very good. Part of that was due to the switch to a 4-3 defense versus the 3-4 that he played in while a Steeler.

The positive of Harrison coming back is of course experience and leadership and an excellent ability to play the run. I don’t think he is the threat to get to the passer he once was but considering the options he could be the best option they have.

It isn’t normal standard operating procedure for the Steelers to bring back former players but you just never know. Harrison has been pretty upfront about his desire to come back but at what price is he willing to do so?

Besides Carter, there is rookie Jordan Zumwalt but I don’t see him being a factor other than on special teams. One possible long-shot fill-in for Worilds could be the oft-traveled Vic So’oto who has been with numerous teams over the last two seasons because of injury. He has shown great flashes but just can’t stay healthy. If he can, he has tremendous size and speed and could see the field.

At this point, I still don’t think we’ll see Harrison back in the black ‘n gold but I’m more open to it considering the current state of Jason Worlds. Should his health continue to be a question throughout the summer, then I think Harrison has to be an option.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.

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12 comments on “Re-Thinking James Harrison’s Return to Pittsburgh

  1. I think it’ll be a question of does anyone like So’Oto or Zumwalt show in camp that you don’t want to risk losing them if you cut then and try to move them to the PS.

    Even if Worilds shows up to training camp at 100% it’s still not really any indication that he won’t miss time during the season (which he has pretty much every year).

    I think with Diesel and James it’s the same strategy… Let’s get to camp and see if we’re comfortable with Moats transition to OLB, and Cam Thomas to DE. If we’re worried… James and Keisel aren’t going anywhere.

  2. Here’s a thought let’s say Worilds and Jones start but only improve slightly from last year. This is the most likely scenario, then we are talking about getting moderate pressure on the QB an around 12-15 sacks between them. Bringing in Harrison and running a rotation to keep everyone fresh would help. This would more than likely would increase production from a position as a whole. As it stands right now we don’t look to good at OLB despite what many believe.

    • It’s a fair idea Bob but would more than likely be just a year-long endeavor which could be all you’d need. I think both the Harrison situation and Keisel’s situation will change as training camp gets going. Any injuries in either of their positions could force the Steelers’ hand.

    • Are you kidding me J? ‘Our baby’ took every snap last season and damn near willed us into the playoffs. You want someone to blame for losing a couple of games then blame Haley for not going to the no huddle sooner or LeBeau for the porous defense.

    • First who cares what the Ravens do. Second without Ben we win 4-5 games. Third without Haley we go right back to playoff contenders. As we stand right now i would honestly think somewhere between 8-10 wins. To Ben’s credit he has pretty much kept his cool during this whole Haley fiasco.

  3. you and bob keep saying wihout ben. i didn’t say that. i happen to think ben is the best qb in football today bar none. if he had the protection manning and brady.who knows what he could have done. i go back to the days before bobby lane. these guys didn’t pout. how many games did we lose at the beginning of the season when ben was at the height of being a brat. don’t tell me they couldn’t have won a couple of those games if he wouldn’t have behaved the way he did. bring out the tapes. watch the body language he displayed when haley came near him to discuss something.

    • Imagine you’ve led your team to 2SBs under an OC you consider a friend and the promptly be told he has retired yet that is a bold lie. How would you react to a new OC? Especially one that has ties to the very man who lied to you? I wasn’t sad to see Arians go but the way it went down was sad and unprofessional. There’s no question that in year one Ben was not happy. I think he grew and welcomed Haley as best he could. The losses in 2013 were many things but I don’t put them on any one guy.

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