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Pittsburgh Steelers topics as they prepare for tonight's second preseason game

James shouldn't follow the crowd; Foster disses the negativity; and Landry needs to keep doing what he's doing

This one seems like a no-brainer for James Harrison.

I mean, check out the help he's getting from around the internet:

* "The NFL's desire to be all-powerful, to have inexorable and unreasonable domain over its players, has in fact left those players, every one of them, open to blackmail" -- a writer.

* "When the NFL doesn't get its way they're going to bully you" -- an agent.

* "James Harrison is all hard work. And he's natural" -- a former teammate.

* "I wonder if the union isn't laying the ground work for a much bigger fight ... (and) coming at Goodell for Hostile Work Environment. That would be interesting. I'd kind of like to see that" -- a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

There are plenty of reasons why Harrison should just say no to Roger Goodell and fight the good fight, the just fight, the fight everyone seemingly wants him to fight.

I've given a few reasons myself since the NFL first wanted to interview Harrison about a since-recanted article in which a man threw Harrison's name onto a pile of names that the man, in my opinion, was just guessing used PEDs.

I've always championed those who wish to fight the power, and Harrison is a heavyweight in that regard. I mean, just look at the chip on his shoulder.

Oh, he's a contrarian all right.

However, with so many allies right now, is saying no the contrarian position anymore?

In fact, I'm wondering now if Harrison should become a TRUE contrarian and disregard all of these reasons, all of this budding populism, and go in and do the interview.

It was someone else's internet comment that moved me off my position:

* "Haha Wexell how does it feel to have a cheater on your team?" -- twitter egghead.

So, why care about a Patriots fan with four followers?

Because this is Harrison's last season. Because he's navigated these waters for 14 of them and has been the most naturally strong athlete I've ever watched.

He's truly a special athlete, and I believe, as Steve McLendon does, that Harrison's all natural. I saw that unnaturally natural strength at his very first camp, before he had $500,000 to spend on his body the way he now does 14 years later. So why hold out in the final year and let even a sliver of twitter egghead-ism shroud what he's accomplished?

We all know that once Harrison starts this war, he's not going to back off. Both sides will be too stubborn to give in. We know Harrison won't give in, and we know that Goodell hates Harrison enough that Goodell would never give in. He didn't give in on Tom Brady, and the NFL cares a lot more about handsome quarterbacks than it does the classic grim reaper of death on defense.

Of course, Harrison has gone out of his way to ensure Goodell's hatred. Harrison once said he wouldn't urinate on the man if he were on fire. There were other comments, and we all cheered them on, as sinful as they were.

And those were sins.

Yes, as much as I enjoyed Harrison's hatred of the commissioner, he's gone too far at times.

Now it's time to pay for those sins. And, hey, we all have sins and we all pay for them in one way or another.

Taking a Rooney-backed day off to merely comply with an interview is a small price to pay for Harrison, for his sins, for his legacy, for his team. There's too much at stake. He's made his point, and it's a good one, too.

Let the writers, the agents, the former teammates and the fans fight this one to the death. James Harrison has done his part already.


The Steelers went to St. Vincent College looking for pass-rushers, cornerbacks and tight ends.

And just about everyone they had in mind for those spots has either struggled or gotten injured.

So was there any redeeming quality to these past three weeks?

"A lot of good came out of this," said guard Ramon Foster.

The big man is the Chief Award winner not just because he's helpful with the media but because he has a positive outlook. That's why I went to him with my negativity.

"Pouncey's back," Foster said. "Ben's looking good. A.B.'s here and he's got his contract thing coming on. David (DeCastro) is working on his. The guys who've shown up have gotten work done. Yeah, we got a lot done."

Foster addressed the problems this way:

"We've still got time," he said. "Jesse (James) has looked good and so has X(avier Grimble), and they're young guys. No, they're not Heath (Miller) and they're not (Matt) Spaeth. We've just got to get used to who we have, and that's X and Jesse."

And the secondary?

"Young guys," Foster said. "You've got a steady guy in Will Gay who's leading his troops. Again, it's still early. If Artie (Burns) isn't ready or Sean (Davis) isn't ready, we've just got to wait until we smooth 'em on into this process."

As for the pass-rushers, Foster has noticed and respects veteran Arthur Moats, and figures one of either Jarvis JonesBud Dupree or Anthony Chickillo will get healthy in time, even if Harrison is suspended.

"When Detroit came, we noticed we had a little bit of a tougher camp than most people," Foster added. "We go hard, so us giving guys a couple days off, I think that's good. I think most of the NFL is honestly doing it more than us. We play tackle football every day and guys that come from most teams never heard of it. So I think we're set."


Speaking of internet commentary, even outrage, it's Landry Jones season again.

No one, it seems, likes the Steelers' backup QB after his 6-for-12, 55-yard first half last week against the Detroit Lions.

But Jones has looked sharp the last two days, perhaps more sharp than at any time in his four camps with the Steelers. He stands tall in the pocket, slides deftly, has touch on his short to intermediate passes and throws the deep ball with ease.

"A lot of confidence," said QB Coach Randy Fichtner. "You get that when you get to go with the first team, the line, A.B."

In watching Jones this week, the feeling is that he's due for perhaps his finest preseason performance tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles. But Fichtner pulled in the reins on that a bit.

"He might," Fichtner said. "But again, we're not going to game plan. We're not going to necessarily put in things that will help him. We've still got to evaluate everyone. It isn't per se a game plan we would use in the regular season. Next week will be more of an in-season game where you're getting work with reps that are going to be exactly how we're going to run a particular play. These are plays we've been running since spring and we still need to see who can execute. (Cobi Hamilton)'s new, other receivers need to get their work, tight ends need work. It isn't like we're game-planning to see if 26 can get on their linebacker where we know we've got a win.

"There'll be some good plays and there'll be some plays that probably aren't so good. It's about learning, for the players AND the coaches. Sometimes we learn the most about our quarterbacks when we've got a bad play, a play we might not even like. But, man, what we learn from that rep is going to keep us from making that mistake in-season.

"But, yeah, his confidence is much better. He's throwing the ball very well."


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