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At age 37, Steelers LB Harrison ready to produce

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has already retired once, understands his reduced role with the team this season.

The 37-year-old Harrison also thinks he can continue to be a solid contributor for many more years as he heads into his 13th NFL season.

Harrison was asked by the Steelers to come out of retirement last September after linebacker Jarvis Jones dislocated his wrist. He re-established himself as the Steelers’ best pass rusher, recording 5 1/2 sacks with 45 tackles in 11 games.

The Steelers are planning to keep Harrison limited to 15-20 plays per game this season.

“Nobody wants to be in a backup role,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “If that’s your mentality, then you’re not in the right sport. Everybody wants to start, but we all have roles to play. I think I can play more than 25 snaps a game when I’m 50.”

Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler, said he is in better shape than he was a year ago.

“I feel good, and I’m in a far better position than I was last year,” Harrison said. “I’m certainly in better shape. I can hit the ground running. My mindset is a little different (than last year) because I’m actually into football. Last year, it was just about working out. It’s about football conditioning now.”

Harrison is third on the Steelers’ career list with 69 1/25 career sacks. He also had two sacks in his one season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.

Harrison envisions a more significant role with the Steelers and plans to lead by example for the Steelers’ young linebackers.

“It’s a role that’s easy to embrace,” Harrison said. “I show what I do by actually doing it. I don’t talk to them about it. If you follow my lead, it shouldn’t be that hard to do the things that are necessary.

“They ask questions about what I’m doing and how I do it. They ask questions about the defense to get a grip on things. It’s what we expect.”


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