The Pittsburgh Steelers reactivated recently-retired linebacker James Harrison after they lost three defensive starters during the Sunday Night Football Game against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 21.
James Harrison is a Pittsburgh Steeler again.
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The Steelers reactivated Harrison, who retired this offseason, on Sept. 23 after a slew of injuries hit their defense during the game against the Carolina Panthers two days earlier. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin called Harrison's signing "a simple and easy decision for us," per Bob Labriola of the team's official website:
"After losing three defensive starts to injury vs. Carolina, the Steelers moved to shore up the roster.
"Calling it 'a simple and easy decision for us,' Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed the signing or previously-retired James Harrison during his news conference today as one of the moves the Steelers have made in response to the loss of three defensive starters last Sunday night in Carolina.
"Harrison, who most recently was in the team's practice facility on Friday, Sept. 5 to announce he formally was retiring as a member of the Steelers, was back early Tuesday morning to sign a contract and begin the work of re-acclimating himself to the team's defensive scheme.
"Harrison was chosen by the Steelers as the most viable option to help compensate for the loss of Jarvis Jones, who was placed on the injured-reserve, designated-to-return list on Monday following surgery to repair the dislocated list he sustained in the victory over the Panthers.
"'Jarvis Jones had wrist surgery, and we put him on IR-designated to return,' said Tomlin. 'We'll see how that goes. Right now, he's simply in the recovery phase, and we'll start visiting with him next week about the process of moving forward and coming back.'
"Because the Steelers placed Jones on the list before 4 p.m. on Monday, the earliest he could return to the field would be for the Monday night game on Nov. 17 at Tennessee against the Titans.
"As for the rest of the injuries, Tomlin said, 'Ike Taylor had forearm fracture surgery and had a plate put in his forearm. We'll keep him on the roster. We'll take a look at him week-to-week, but he's going to be out several weeks before we get into a hardcore discussion about his return. Ryan Shazier's knee injury is less significant. He's got a sprain. He can be characterized as out for this week, and we'll evaluate him at the top of next week.'
"Because the Steelers have kept five inside linebackers and six cornerbacks on their initial 53-man roster, they had options already in place to compensate for the injuries to Shazier and Taylor. Not so much at outside linebacker, where Arthur Moats was the primary backup when the season ended, with Terence Garvin filling the role of inside-outside swingman. Enter Harrison.
"'We know James. James knows us,' said Tomlin. 'James understands how we desire to play defense. He understands the scheme. We're not going to assume that he's up-to-speed on the schematics. It's been over 12 months since he's been a part of us, and so we're going to respect that.
"His level of participation will be determined by what he can execute and his level of conditioning. We're simply going to play it by ear. It'll be no different than the process we went through in re-acclimating Brett Keisel into the fold.'"
According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, Harrison cites his family, Taylor, Keisel and Troy Polamalu as the reasons why he's playing for the Steelers again:
"James Harrison credts his family and three renewed teammates for his return to the Steelers -- Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor.
"He talked to all three into the wee hours of the morning after they returned from their 37-19 victory against the Carolina Panthers Sunday night in Charlotte, N.C., and they convinced him to re-sign with the Steelers.
"'If it weren't for Keisel, Ike and Troy, I would not have signed back,' Harrison told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tuesday.
"'I had to talk to my kids whether they wanted me back or not and talked to my parents. The big thing is the guys. I talked to Keisel until 4 or 5 in the morning.
"'It's good to be back.'
"Harrison, renowned for his workout routines, said, 'I'm in good shape. Of course, not in football shape because I'm not in football yet.'
"As for how he will be used in the defense, he repeated what coach Mike Tomlin offered to the same question earlier in the day.
"'We'll find out.'
"The Arizona Cardinals wanted to sign Harrison before the start of the regular season and he paid them a visit, but realized it was too far away from his family.
"'Being out there, I realized I would be away from my kids for an extended period of time. I had gone through that already in Cincinnati. It was not something I was looking forward to. I just didn't want to do it,' Harrison said.
"Harrison played 10 seasons with the Steelers and when he and the team could not agree on a reduction in pay for the 2013 season, they released him. He wound up signing with the Cincinnati Bengals, for two seasons but was out of place in their 4-3 defense. The Bengals released him early this year.
"Harrison, James Worilds and Arthur Moats are the only outside linebackers on the Steelers' 53-man roster."
The 36-year-old Harrison has amassed 647 tackles, 66.0 sacks, 29 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and six interceptions in 145 career regular-season games with the Steelers and Bengals through Sept. 23, per ESPN stats.
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