The Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has one of the best-selling jerseys and he even has a sandwich named after him. Running back Willie Parker currently leads the NFL in rushing, and Alan Faneca is one of the top guards in the NFL. If you look over at the other side of the ball, Casey Hampton is considered one of the best nose tackles in football, and strong safety Troy Polamalu is certainly one of the best at his position. Simply put, the Pittsburgh Steelers have star power.
Perhaps the best player on the team this season, and certainly the best player on the Steelers top-ranked defense wasn't mentioned above, and isn't usually mentioned nationally. That player is outside linebacker James Harrison. Harrison is a four-year pro who had big shoes to fill this season when Pittsburgh decided to let go three-time Pro Bowler Joey Porter. Porter was the Steelers most obnoxious defensive player during his eight seasons wearing the black and gold, and he was also one of the best playmakers on the team. Prior to the 2007 season, the Steelers decided to relinquish the rights to Porter, as they felt that Harrison was a viable replacement.
The move to insert Harrison in the starting lineup was one of the best in the offseason for Pittsburgh as Harrison has been everything that Porter was, without the irritating attitude. Through 13 games, Harrison leads the Steelers defense with 81 tackles, 8.5 sacks, one interception, and an unbelievable seven forced fumbles. Harrison has been every bit as dominant as any defensive player in the NFL this year with the possible exception of the Titans Albert Haynesworth.
James Harrison has caused opposing offenses nothing but chaos all season long and if the Jaguars don't make it a priority to get a helmet on him, he could repeat the performance that he had on a Monday night in November, when he blew up the Baltimore Ravens offensive line for 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception. If Harrison continues his excellent play, there will be a lot more #92 jerseys being sold all over the country.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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Flying Under the Radar: James Harrison
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