Jeremy Fowler of ESPN took a look at 37-year-old James Harrison and the mystery surrounding his role in the upcoming season. Deebo is confident in his abilities and durability, and has said he can play 25 snaps a game when he's 50.
Coach Joey Porter, however, has indicated his participation will be limited. With Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree as attractive options, Harrison would not have the weight of the defense on his shoulders (though he doesn't mind weight on his shoulders as evidenced by his love for weighted vests as of late.)
Fowler made on controversial comment in his analysis of James Harrison: "The Steelers won't be at their best if he's forced to play entire games."
1) There is no forcing James Harrison to do anything. He wants to be on the field as much as possible. In fact, #92 would probably take the opposite view: "Why are they forcing me to be on the sidelines so much?"
2) Assuming Harrison's presence on the field will equate to the Steelers not playing "at their best" is also inane. Is Jarvis Jones better? We don't know because he has been injured. Is Bud Dupree better? Not sure of that either because he's never played in the NFL.
3) If the Steelers aren't playing at their best it is probably because this is a transition year with new players coming up and a new defensive coordinator in Keith Butler. Harrison's snap count shouldn't factor into the equation.
There is no way to predict what Harrison's role will be this season, though it is clear that the coaching staff sees a more limited role for him. That said, if he ends up on the field more than planned it is not necessarily indicative of a weakness on the part of the Steelers. At 37, Harrison is still capable of making big plays, and if he is on the field it means he is the best man for the job.