2011 NFL Preview: The Buck (and runners) stops here
The Old Man of the 'D'
Friday, September 09, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At an age when most players already have retired, James Farrior continues to grow in stature, even if he might be shrinking in size.
When he came to the Steelers as a free agent from the New York Jets in 2002, Farrior was an outside linebacker who weighed 240 pounds. But the Steelers wanted him to play inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense, and they wanted him to play the Buck position, which meant he was responsible for running to the ball and making tackles.
Taking on blockers? That was a role left to Casey Hampton, a 340-pound nose tackle in front of him, whose job, if at all possible, was to keep guards and centers away from Farrior.
"The guys up front do a good job keeping guys off us," Farrior said. "Every now and then, we got to wrestle and tussle with the linemen. But, most of the time, we're just running."
So Farrior decided he needed to weigh less to run more, so he lost approximately 10 pounds after his first season with the Steelers. But, as he got older and the grind of a season took its toll on his body, Farrior kept finding it difficult to maintain his body weight.
A couple of years ago, even some of his teammates used to tease him that he looked more like a safety when December rolled around and playoff time approached. At one point, Farrior was playing inside linebacker at a lithe 218 pounds.
Most teams prefer size, too, but Farrior and Larry Foote, his backup at inside linebacker, disprove that notion.
"They're not big, but they hit hard," Hampton said. "That's what people don't realize -- how hard they hit."