Notebook: Harrison a bad man

LATROBE – Joey Porter's replacement said he won't try to emulate Porter, but James Harrison couldn't help himself.

"Have I played anybody tougher than me?" Harrison repeated. "No."

Is he the toughest of all the Steelers?

"I believe I'm the toughest guy in the world, so I mean take that how you want to," he said. "Superman ain't got nothing on me."

Harrison was sounding a little bit like Porter, the team's injured and, ahem, confident right outside linebacker.

"No, no I'm not sounding like Joey," Harrison said. "It's just that you're never going to hear me say somebody else is tougher than me because I don't believe nobody else can be tougher than me."

Harrison, as Steelers fans learned last year, is the short (6-0, 243) but powerful linebacker who wreaked havoc in the four games last season.

His highlights were the sack and five tackles he had in replacing an ejected Porter at Cleveland, and a fumble return for a touchdown at Buffalo.

Teammates call him "Silverback"; reporters call him "sir".

"I don't try to intimidate anybody," Harrison explained. "My natural look is intimidating, from what I hear."

He's come a long way since reporting to the Steelers as an undrafted rookie out of Kent State in 2002. But even then he publicly criticized Steelers legend Jack Lambert for not returning to his alma mater to support the current Kent players.

Harrison was cut that preseason, picked up by Baltimore, sent to NFL Europe, released upon his return, and signed by the Steelers prior to the 2004 season.

How has he changed with all of the bouncing around?

"I think I've matured a lot," he said.

In what way?

"On the field and off the field."

Off the field? How?

"I can't tell you about that."

Is it a mystery?

"Nah," he said. "I'm just a cool, calm, real nice guy; a huggable teddy bear cat."

Whatever sir says.


He's been a disappointment through two seasons, but the Steelers' second-round draft pick from 2003 has been playing well in camp. That's what teammates and coaches are saying. Fans and reporters often paint a different picture, but it hasn't fazed Jackson.

"I don't read the paper or look at the TV," he said. "I play PlayStation II or XBox or look at game films. That's all I do. It keeps you happy; keeps you focused."

Jackson came to the Steelers weighing 261. They asked him to put on weight, so he reported to camp last year at 270. In those two years, he played in nine games and made three tackles on defense and four on specials teams.

Looking at his last chance, Jackson took coach Bill Cowher's advice and lost weight. He worked out with Troy Polamalu and reported to camp at 252 pounds. He says it's helped.

"I feel a little better moving backwards in coverage," Jackson said.

However, there was a price to pay in hanging out with Polamalu: They supplemented their workouts with a wheat grass powder.

"It's nasty," Jackson said. "But it works."


Wide receiver Chris Doering signed with the Steelers yesterday. They made room by putting Marco Battaglia on injured reserve. Although he played through the final play of Wednesday night's scrimmage, Battaglia, the Steelers say, has a knee injury.

For Doering, who spent 2003 (18 catches) and six games of 2004 with the Steelers, it's a happy homecoming.

"It's been my favorite place that I played," he said.

An eighth-year vet out of the University of Florida, Doering was hanging out at home when the Steelers called.

"I just started thinking the other day, man, how sad it would be not to be able to put on the uniform one more time and get a chance to be out here in the black and gold," he said. "I'm looking forward to Monday night."


The Steelers will host the Philadelphia Eagles at 8 p.m. Monday (ESPN). Cowher said the starters will play a quarter and that all four quarterbacks should play. Cowher couldn't be sure of the healthy situation, but missing Thursday's practice with minor injuries were Walter Young (hamstring), Antwaan Randle El (ankle), Lee Mays (hamstring), Travis Kirshke (back), James Farrior (back), Ricardo Colclough (hip flexor) and Sean Morey.

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