New England Patriots: James Harrison making presence felt

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: James Harrison #92 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: James Harrison #92 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison is making his presence felt on the field after being used sparingly with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New England Patriots got an unexpected gift near the end of the regular season. With the injury bug hitting the roster, especially at the linebacker and pass rushing spots, New England received a late Christmas gift in the way of one.

Prior to the final game of the regular season against the New York Jets, the Patriots signed linebacker James Harrison. The Patriots signed Harrison off free agency after the Pittsburgh Steelers waived him and he cleared waivers. It was a move that surprised many people, and his landing spot was even more of a shock.

Harrison spent years trying to defeat the Patriots and knock them off. Now, the Steelers’ all-time sack leader, was going to be looking to help them get yet another Super Bowl title.

There were plenty of rumors swirling about why Harrison was released. The Steelers were heading in a bit of a youth movement with players such as Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt at outside linebacker. Also, at 39-years old, maybe Harrison didn’t have anything left in the tank.

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No one really knew as the Steelers kept Harrison on ice most of the season. In 15 games, Harrison played only 40 snaps. In those 40 snaps and five games, Harrison had one sack and three tackles. It was difficult to figure out if he had anything left in the tank, but the Patriots wasted no time in finding out.

Harrison has already proved that he has something left in the tank to offer. In his first game with the Patriots, Harrison had two sacks, three tackles and a forced fumble against the Jets.

While the rest of the league bemoaned the Patriots getting even more help, the Patriots had to have confidence that arguably their biggest need had been filled. Harrison gives the Patriots a legitimate pass rushing option, and he has continued filling that role in the postseason.

Harrison has three tackles in both playoff games against the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. While he doesn’t have any sacks, his presence has been felt as he has still managed to provide pressure and keep the quarterback uneasy.

"“It feels good, but like I’ve said before, this is all God’s plan. This is all his doing,” Harrison said Sunday, when asked how he feels about advancing to Super Bowl LII. “I’m just reaping the benefits of it right now.”"

You can bet that Harrison will be an integral part of the Patriots defensive game plan in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. After barely playing with the Steelers, Harrison has played 27, 30 and 32 snaps in his games with New England.

Harrison’s role is growing with each passing game as he gets more acclimated to what the Patriots want to do defensively. It would not be a shock to see Harrison get on the field for even more snaps against the Eagles, especially if the Patriots are able to get an early lead.

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If New England can put the Eagles in a position that they have to pass the ball, Harrison will be given an opportunity to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback.