"We'll accept that, of course," said the Steelers' coach. "We're disappointed. We're disappointed for James because we know quite frankly how hard he's worked to play within the rules. He's worked extremely hard to adjust his game. Unfortunately, the incident happened. It was a penalty and we have to be accountable for that. He has to be accountable for that. So we accept the judgment rendered by the league office. We'll move forward."
The league suspended Harrison for a week without pay for his helmet-to-facemask hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, who was running in the open field, but who at the last minute threw a pass before Harrison hit him. The league cited Harrison for his "fifth illegal hit in the past three seasons."
Harrison was fined $100,000 for questionable hits and unnecessary roughness penalties against four different players last season.
Harrison has three days to appeal the suspension, which will be heard by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell. Those two former coaches were jointly appointed by the league and the players' union.
While it's clear Harrison did not intend to harm McCoy – as was the case with previously suspended defender Ndamukong Suh – Tomlin said: "It's a foul. A quarterback who just released a pass is defenseless. It's a foul."
Tomlin allowed there were "some interesting circumstances … but all of those things are irrelevant. He hit him. He hit him illegally."
Harrison isn't allowed at the Steelers' practice facility until Dec. 20, the day after the next game, but there was a bit of good news on the injury front as Tomlin said he expects LaMarr Woodley to return from a hamstring injury that's kept him out of all but two series the last five games.
Jason Worilds would likely move over to replace Harrison as the right outside linebacker should Woodley remain healthy through the game.
Tomlin said that Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey are questionable with their Grade 1 left ankle sprains, and Troy Polamalu is questionable with a hamstring strain. Tomlin said that "as we get closer and deal with situational football, everybody who's going to be a participant needs physical reps."
As for Roethlisberger playing or not playing depending on playoff circumstances, Tomlin said, "If he's healthy enough to play, he'll play. I don't play that game."