The conscience of the Steelers defense
Posted August 21, 2008 8 :43 PM
[url="http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/viewfromthepressbox/"]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... epressbox/[/url]
James Harrison made folks forget about Joey Porter last season. The reason: he did a more than fair imitation of one of the Steelers’ best pass rushers and more intimidating players in recent memory.
Harrison, who made the Pro Bowl as a starter last season, recently showed that he has a little of the outspoken Porter in him off the field as well.
Harrison called out the first-team defense after its lackluster effort in last Thursday’s 24-21 loss to the Bills in Toronto. He didn’t back away from his criticism this week.
“We didn’t play up to snuff period,” Harrison said. “They just ran the ball up and down the field.”
The shortcomings may have had something to do with the Steelers playing basic defense because they don’t want to show anything in a meaningless game. Uh, tell that to Harrison.
“We weren’t out there with a mind of this is a game. We were out there with the mind frame of this is preseason and when the regular season rolls around everything will come to, and that just won’t happen,” Harrison said. “We’ve got to play a preseason game like it’s a regular season game.”
James Farrior, who signed a four-year extension today, is the captain of the defense. And deservedly so given the respect he commands in the Steelers’ locker room. But Farrior is quiet by nature, at least off the field, which means Harrison could step into a role that Porter also filled while he was in Pittsburgh: the conscience of a proud defense.
"We haven't really stepped up and played to the level we're capable of," said Harrison, who added that he'd like the first-team defense to play three quarters Saturday night against Minnesota.
When asked how the defense has responded to what happened in Toronto, where the Steelers made second-year Bills quarterback Trent Edwards look like a Pro Bowler, Harrison said, “Everybody seems to be stepping it up a little bit, taking things a little more serious."
That’s a good thing for the Steelers since it is becoming clear that his teammates will have to answer to Harrison if they don’t match his intensity.