PITTSBURGH -- It is widely believed that veterans Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, James Harrison and Ike Taylor won't be back for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense next year, but lumping Harrison into that group might be a little premature.
Harrison, talking to the media Monday for the final time this season, said he hasn't looked that far into the future.
"I had no visions of anything,'' Harrison said. "I just wanted to make the team when I got here. (But) I'm not really settled on anything. I'm going up to this (team) meeting and see what we've got going on and go from there.''
The Steelers held a team meeting at 1 p.m. Monday, but will return over the next few days for individual exit interviews. That apparently would be when Harrison discusses his future with his head coach. When he first re-signed with the Steelers, Harrison said this was a one-and-done year for him. Until he decides if he wants to return and if the Steelers want him back, Harrison added that he will continue to train.
"I'm going to train, because I like to look good,'' Harrison said. "So, that won't stop. (But), my body felt better, to be honest with you. When I first got here, going through the practices and the first few weeks (during the season), there was a feeling that my body couldn't take this.
"But, over the course of first 3-4 weeks or so, my body adjusted. I started to feel a lot better, and I felt better at the end of the year than I felt at the end of the previous 2-3 years. So, that was something that creeped into my head. I actually felt good and don't feel bad, nowhere near what I thought I'd be.''
Some believe that Harrison benefitted from not having spring ball or a rigorous training camp, and he had a couple weeks off with an injured knee to re-energize him near the end. But Harrison felt differently.
"I didn't have to do through training camp, but it still took me four weeks to get into shape, to drop 20-30 pounds,'' Harrison added. "So, like I said, it was six in one hand and half a dozen in the other.''
Harrison didn't want to think about spring OTAs or training camp, but he likely will want to start if he does return for a 13th NFL season. That's how he viewed himself when he came back this year.
"I was told that I would be filling in a few snaps here and there, 20 or so snaps, but I felt like I could start,'' Harrison said. "I'm not coming into a situation and thinking that I would stick to that level. Nobody comes into a situation and thinks they could stay at that level. There's always that desire to start. So, that's now I felt.''
Jarvis Jones, the Steelers No. 1 pick in 2013, was supposed to be the heir apparent to Harrison at right outside linebacker. Jones believed it was his position to lose when he comes back healthy next season, but he also acknowledged the impact Harrison had on him and provided this impression.
"He's a tremendously hard worker,'' Jones said. "One of the hardest workers I've ever seen. He attacks this game with a passion. Just watching him from the sideline when I was out and watching him during the couple weeks when I got a chance to play with him, just watching how he does things, different techniques and just talking with him, I did learn some things from him.''
Harrison believed that Jones had a strong upside and that all the young players on defense had a bright future as well.
"The guys grew from the time I got here until the end of the year,'' Harrison said. "And as long as they continue to grow and continue to do the things necessary, I don't think there will be an issue with them stepping in and being the starters or being the guys who are the leaders on this team.''
So, even though the future linebackers are in place, is it tougher for Harrison to hang it up a second time?
"Yeah, it is,'' Harrison said. "At the beginning of the year, it was very easy to say that I was done after this, because your body felt like crap. It was hard just trying to get out of bed and during those four weeks losing the weight to get back in shape and having your body adjust.
"It becomes harder and harder to get back into competition, going against bigger guys and trying to enforce your will on them. So, I guess you could say that it's a little harder to do, but that's where I'm at right now. So, it's going to be a long process to decide what it is that I really want to do.''
But don't expect Harrison to attempt to get the band back together, so to speak. He said he won't try to talk Keisel, Polamalu or Taylor into coming back with him, even though Keisel had that talk with him.
"I'm not going to talk anybody into doing anything that they really don't want to do,'' Harrison said with a laugh.