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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on James Harrison: “His existence doesn’t fall into convention”

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin outlined the plan for James Harrison in the 2017 season.

NFL: New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I find myself chuckling when I hear someone use the age-old saying “No one outruns Father Time.”

The finality of the saying is true, but it sure seems like Father Time is running as far away from Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as possible. The 39 year-old pass rusher has embarked on his new two-year contract, and a rigorous workout regimen to prepare him to go against players half his age in 2017.

But how exactly do the Steelers plan on utilizing Harrison this year?

In 2016, the team rotated Harrison with Jarvis Jones until roughly Week 10, when Mike Tomlin gave the reins to Harrison and rode ‘Silverback’ all the way to the AFC Championship game. Is that the plan again for 2017? When Mike Tomlin met with media members prior to the annual NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, he outlined just what makes Harrison special, as well as the plan for the upcoming season.

“We all have to acknowledge that James already has conquered the odds,” Tomlin told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He doesn’t fall into convention. His existence doesn’t fall into convention.”

But just what do they expect from the man they call Deebo this season?

“We’ll be thoughtful about our approach in a similar way we were thoughtful about our approach a year ago,” Tomlin said.

“I was comfortable with the way we walked it a year ago,” Tomlin said. “It got to a point where it was ‘go’ time. And he was ready to go. Maybe the way we managed him over the course of the front part of the year allowed that to happen. So the good thing is that it’s nothing new for us, it’s nothing new for (him). We’ll walk that tightrope again.”

The Steelers will likely be selecting a pass rusher in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, and a rotation with this young player could be what helps to keep Harrison fresh until Tomlin deems it is ‘go’ time again. Fans also shouldn’t forget about Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo. Both are serviceable backups, probably not starting caliber players, but capable of rotating with Harrison to keep him fresh for a stretch run.

After two seasons of walking the proverbial tightrope, as Tomlin put it, one thing should be certain, and that is how fans should trust Tomlin in this respect. Although Jarvis Jones made some poor plays, specifically against the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field, Tomlin played his cards well and got the best out of Harrison at the biggest point of the season.

Fans talk about the embarrassment which was the AFC Championship game, but you can’t forget who got them there with a key holding call on a two-point conversion at Arrowhead Stadium — James Harrison.

Harrison is already preparing for the season, and looks like he is ready to unleash on opposing quarterbacks again.

Yeah, it’s ‘go’ time.