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Steelers News: Are the Steelers underestimating what James Harrison brings to the team?

The Steelers decided not to play James Harrison in Week 2, are they underestimating what the 39-year-old still can do on the gridiron?

Wild Card Round - Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

What exactly is the plan for James Harrison? Great question and a lot of people have their own guesses about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ plans for No. 92. But is it possible the team is underestimating Harrison’s capabilities at the ripe old age of 39?

After his 2016 season, when he led the team in sacks, it seems doubtful they’re doing that. But then again, why wouldn’t they play him when T.J. Watt came out injured in Week 2? Lots of questions, not too many answers.

Time to check out the Black-and-gold news from outside the walls of BTSC:

Why didn’t James Harrison play a single snap on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and only four total snaps in two games?

Apparently, not many people were listening closely enough on August 14 when outside linebackers coach Joey Porter revealed the plan for how his players would be used. As he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that day, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree would get all of the snaps unless they got tired or weren’t doing the job. He could have added injury to that list, though, because both have now missed time due to injuries through the first two games.

Somewhat of a surprise on Sunday, though, was that Anthony Chickillo replaced the injured Watt on the right side and not Harrison, who started during the second half of last season and was listed as Watt’s backup.

But this is what Porter had to say to Harrison via the Post-Gazette during training camp:

“Until we need you, the young guys are going to play. You’re a good safety net to have; if somebody’s not getting the job done, we happen to know we have a wily veteran that we can put into the game. But to be honest going in, we have two young first-rounders who shouldn’t be tired. And when they do get tired, we’ll make the adjustments we need to.”

Those “adjustments” did not include Harrison stepping onto the field in the second game, nor very much in the first when Chickillo replaced the injured Dupree, starting on the left side and produced two sacks and a touchdown on a fumbled punt.

So why Chickillo against the Vikings and in Week 2 for Watt? Simple, coach Mike Tomlin explained.

“Chickillo produced two sacks. We respect those contributions. T.J. got hurt in Week Two. We wanted to leave the hot hands in there, Chickillo being that hot hand.”

“We appreciate James. We know what James is capable of. James will ready himself. There will be a time in the season where we’ll call on his services and he’ll deliver and deliver in a big way, much like he did in the latter part of 2016.

“In the meantime, we’re going to continue to roll people and play guys that we see fit and not do a real good job of maybe describing our mindset or outlining their intentions because part of it is gamesmanship and part of it will define itself as we move forward.”

If you’re a Steelers fan and a “Call of Duty” fan, congratulations.

Le’Veon Bell and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, are both characters in “Call of Duty: WWII,” the 14th installment of the super-popular series of military video games set for release on November 3rd. It’s the first of the series set in World War II since 2008.

Likenesses of both Steelers show up on the game’s “Headquarters” mode, which the developer describes as “an all new off-the-frontlines experience for Call of Duty players” where they can “compete, earn rewards, show off their accomplishments, and connect with fans and friends.”

To celebrate all that, Bell and Villanueva joined their teammates at a Downtown restaurant on Tuesday, where they played the game and took some time to speak to the Post-Gazette about the experience, video games in general and, of course, JuJu Smith-Schuster. These two interviews have been condensed and combined for clarity.

Mike Tomlin was referring to Mike Glennon's height and not a perceived lack of mobility when he called the Chicago Bears quarterback “statuesque” at his weekly news conference Tuesday.

Glennon has come under scrutiny in Chicago for the Bears' 0-2 start, particularly after he turned the ball over three times, including a pick-6, in a 29-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Tomlin wasn't piling on because he was on the wrong side of one of Glennon's top career performances.

In the fourth week of the 2014 season, Glennon led the 0-3 Buccaneers to a 27-24 upset of the 2-1 Steelers at Heinz Field. He passed for 302 yards and engineered a last-second, game-winning touchdown drive. His 41-yard pass to Louis Murphy set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 7 seconds remaining.

“I have a lot of respect for his talents,” Tomlin said.

After four seasons in Tampa Bay, where he made 18 career starts, Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Bears in March. His starting job, however, is tenuous with No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky waiting in the wings. Glennon received a vote of confidence from coach John Fox after Sunday's loss.

“I know why they went out and acquired him,” Tomlin said about Glennon. “He has physical traits you can't coach. He's statuesque, which allows for great field vision. He can make any throw on the field.

“He's a great anticipator and you can see that when you watch his tape.”

Tomlin would like to see his defense create more turnovers. The Steelers are plus-one in the takeaway/giveaway department after two games. They have one interception and one fumble recovery.

“I'd like to see us get more,” Tomlin said. “Some teams out there are playing significant ball on the defensive side and are getting turnovers in bunches. If we want to be one of the elite groups, we have to get in that game.”

The 2-0 Ravens already have created 10 turnovers, including eight interceptions.

Make no mistake about it, the Steelers gobbled up free agent Joe Haden because he’s still a darned good cover cornerback, and they were in dire need of one of those.

Through two games, Haden hasn’t disappointed with his coverage skills. He’s only given up a handful of catches and seemingly has solidified a secondary that’s now fifth in the league against the pass, following wins over the Browns and Vikings.

While that’s well worth the $27 million the Steelers paid Haden to sign for three years, their investment in the two-time Pro Bowler is also paying off in another, unexpected way.

Turns out that Haden is a pretty good blitzer coming off of the corner, which is something he was rarely asked to do in Cleveland. After a couple of sacks early in his career, Haden didn’t have a single one in more than five years with the Browns. Now, in two games with the Steelers, he has one sack, a quarterback hurry and, against the Vikings on Sunday, he came off the corner on a blitz four times to make Case Keenum‘s day a little more miserable.

Haden is all for the new addition to his role as a cover corner.

“Trying to get in there is fun,” Haden said. “You get a back and they don’t expect me to come so I get a free shot at the quarterback and I’m going to take that every time.”