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Old 03-27-2007, 01:29 PM   #1
tony hipchest
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Default Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

this sounds just like keisel last year. harrison seems to love special teams. he even lobbied to bring back iwouma. i know tomlins quote of "all hands on deck" in regards to special teams not being "lip service" is old. but it takes me back to cowhers lip service after the 2001 debaucle of seeing more starters on st's.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_499691.html

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James Harrison is more worried about the Steelers' ability to replace him on special teams if it comes to that than he is his readiness to take over for Joey Porter as a starting outside linebacker.
"That may sound conceited to some people, but I feel like with the opportunities that I've had I've played well enough that there wasn't a huge drop-off, or any drop-off at all," Harrison said.

There have been eight such opportunities for Harrison to start for either Porter or Clark Haggans since 2004.

The Steelers' willingness to part with Porter speaks volumes about their faith in Harrison to fill the current gap at outside linebacker, at least initially.

But there was a huge drop-off in the kicking game during the first half of last season, not just on fielding kickoffs and punts but also in covering them.

It was there the Steelers learned the hard way that their core players weren't as replaceable as initially anticipated.

Former special teams captain Chidi Iwuoma was released just before the start of the season and wasn't re-signed until Dec. 4.

And former special teams demon Brett Keisel had his kicking game duties severely curtailed after being promoted to stating defensive end to replace Kimo von Oelhoffen.

Harrison felt strongly enough about Iwuoma that he spoke with former head coach Bill Cowher once a week about bringing Chidi back.

"At least once a week, yeah," Harrison said.

Cowher's response?

"Maybe a smile, a laugh, 'We're working on it, da, da, da,' " Harrison said.

Iwuoma has been re-signed for this season, presumably for a reason.

And Harrison's coach-player exchanges with Cowher's successor, Mike Tomlin, have begun to hit a little closer to home.

"I got a little hint from him that he might not have anything against starters playing special teams," Harrison said.

For the Steelers, the climb back from 8-8 can have no more appropriate starting point.

Although Iwuoma's back, the Steelers lost another former special teams stalwart this offseason when Sean Morey bolted for Arizona via free agency.

Morey, Iwuoma, Harrison, Keisel and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt had been the glue of the coverage units during the Steelers' Super Bowl season of 2005.

Tomlin wasn't around back then or last season, but he expressed an "all-hands-on-deck mentality" regarding special teams in February.

"If it requires starters being special teams players in certain situations or quite often, then we've got to be willing to do that," Tomlin said. "It's not going to be lip service. It's a legitimate phase of the game."

Should Tomlin find special teams legitimate enough to keep Harrison involved while he replaces Porter, and to re-incorporate Keisel as an integral figure in the kicking game then his point will have been made.

Until then the special teams will remain as potentially problematic as any aspect of the operation for the former Super Bowl champions.


Mike Prisuta is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He can be reached at mprisuta@tribweb.com or 412-320-7923
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

i'm sure glad we have iwuoma back, but morey isn't going to be easy to replace either. special teams killed us a number of different times last year, and if harrison is willing to step up to the plate and do both, i say that's great.
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

I agree! I think more starters should still play special teams, we are known to keep people on our roster just becuase of special teams, seems like it would be better to have someone on the roster that you plan on being in on something other than special teams.
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Old 03-27-2007, 02:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

Who will the Steleers PR be next year?

Willie Reid?

I can't imagine they will stick with Holmes.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

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Who will the Steleers PR be next year?

Willie Reid?

I can't imagine they will stick with Holmes.
if holmes starts this year at WR they defintly wont stick with him. I am pretty sure it will be willie ried thats why we drafted him right?
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

santonio did a good job, if it wasnt for his 600 fumbles he probably could of went to the probowl, he averaged like 25 yrds per return on kickoffs and like 11 on punt returns, that is really good. i would like to see willie reid and najeh davenport returning kicks, willie reid isnt a great reciever but he was drafted in the 3rd round just to return kicks.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

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if holmes starts this year at WR they defintly wont stick with him. I am pretty sure it will be willie ried thats why we drafted him right?
Personally I wouldn't take the risk with Pittsburghs top deep threat on ST, but Tomlin said he wanted more starters ...so who knows?
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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

I think if Willie Reid can stay healthy, he will take over on PR and KR duties. I can also see Davenport back there with him on KR's
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

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Originally Posted by dhosmer View Post
i'm sure glad we have iwuoma back, but morey isn't going to be easy to replace either. special teams killed us a number of different times last year, and if harrison is willing to step up to the plate and do both, i say that's great.

We will not miss Morey, Reid will fill in fine.
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Harrison unafraid of double duty

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We will not miss Morey, Reid will fill in fine.
Reid will do fine as a return man, but Morey was more utilized for his hard hitting and tackling abilities than anything else.
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