James Harrison played nary a snap against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, and barely saw the field in Pittsburgh's opener against the Cleveland Browns. The 39-year-old was still performing at a high level when last we saw him in the AFC Championship Game, so Harrison would be right to be upset over his time on the sideline.
When asked repeatedly Friday about his response to his lack of snaps, Harrison told reporters, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I'm just doing what I'm asked."
While what he's being asked to do right now is very little, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin insisted that there will be a role for Harrison on this team in the future.
"There will be a time in the season where we'll call on his services, and he'll deliver and he'll deliver in a big way. Much like he did in the latter part of 2016," Tomlin said Tuesday. "In the meanwhile, man, 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 our intentions because part of it is gamesmanship and part of it is it will define itself as we move forward."
Part of the reason why Harrison has rarely seen the field this season is the emergence of T.J. Watt, who through just two games in the league looked like a game-changing edge rusher, much like his brother J.J. The Steelers rookie played in 94 percent of Pittsburgh's snaps in Week 1, but just 31 percent in Week 2 after suffering the injury. Watt leads the team in sacks (2) and interceptions (1) and is an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But now Watt is injured, out for this week with an injured groin. Perhaps that opens up more snaps for a healthy Harrison, who is waiting patiently for his return to the gridiron. How many snaps will he play in Sunday's clash against the Chicago Bears? As many as he's asked to.