James Harrison Drawing Rave Reviews As A Patriots Teammate Thus Far


January 24, 2018

FOXBORO, Mass. — The way Bud Dupree tells it, James Harrison was not a popular guy in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room by the time he was released last month.

Dupree, a Steelers linebacker, said Harrison would fall asleep in meetings and didn’t help groom his fellow teammates. Harrison barely played for the Steelers this season, getting on the field for just 40 snaps, before getting cut and scooped up by the New England Patriots.

Harrison has made a positive impact on the field with New England. It sounds like he’s been a good teammate, as well.

“He’s a great guy, a vet, definitely understands the game a lot,” defensive end Trey Flowers said.

Flowers said he’s learned about different techniques from Harrison, who’s a 15-year NFL veteran. He also said he’s observed him as a leader.

“It’s been a great experience,” Flowers said.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick raved about Harrison on Wednesday morning in a news conference. The linebacker made an immediate impact with the Patriots, recording two sacks five days after being signed prior to Week 17.

“James has been great, really professional, works hard,” Belichick said. “There are a lot of things that we do that are different from what he?s done in the past, but he?s adjusted very quickly. I give him a lot of credit for that and has tried to learn and do everything that we’ve asked him to do to the very best of his ability. You can?t ask for any more than that. …

“He?s given us a really solid level of play, but every play he’s into it, whether he?s in the game, in practice, on the field, or on the sideline, getting the call, mentally processing the play, meetings, film, walkthroughs, all of those things. This guy is a professional. He?s into football. He?s into his job and wants to do it well. I 100 percent totally respect that. That?s what you want from everybody.”

Perhaps Harrison has been more helpful in New England because he actually has been playing with the Patriots. He’s been on the field for 107 total snaps, including special teams, through three games. He even started in the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to advance to Super Bowl LII.

“Oh, James, he’s the man,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said Wednesday. “He’s awesome. He’s been awesome since he got here. Really, he’s been a good addition for us in the locker room and his experience and just his competitiveness and his selflessness to be able to teach others. He’s been awesome.”

Van Noy, 26, said it’s been a cool experience to be teammates with a pass rusher he grew up watching.

“I mean, I still remember that Super Bowl catch he returned like it was yesterday,” Van Noy said. “What an amazing play. It goes to show that if you work hard, you can be successful. He’s 39 still playing at a high level, but more importantly what he’s done with making doubters believers and playing at a high level.”

Van Noy said he has no intention of still playing when he’s 39 years old. He plans to be on a beach somewhere instead.

Before Flowers was drafted by the Patriots, his father was a Steelers fan. So, Flowers spent a lot of time watching Harrison.

“Just seeing all the great plays he made and things like that, it’s just kind of a cool thing just to see him here in the locker room and be playing beside him,” Flowers said.

“It’s just one of those things, as a young guy, you just look at guys and you see them living out their dream and you obviously have a dream of your own, so you just work hard to achieve that dream. I’ve been working hard a long part of my life and so it’s definitely a blessed experience.”

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Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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