They say you can’t teach on old dog new tricks, which is a rather dumb adage. James Harrison might be well into the wrong side of 30 after nearly a decade playing in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 3-4 base defense under Dick LeBeau, but I don’t think his transition from a 34 outside linebacker to a 43 outside backer is too difficult a change for training camp reps to rectify.
Working with one of the game’s truly elite defensive coordinators like Mike Zimmer, Harrison is deep into absorbing the playbook and ethos of the Cincinnati Bengals defense.
“I think the first week we put in a few things. And then (Tuesday) I think we threw in maybe as three times as much as we did the whole first week,” Harrison said recently, via USA Today Sports. “I had a chance to go back last night and go over the defenses and had a whole better time of executing.”
Harrison will give Cincy an OLB that might be past his prime but still provides the pass coverage skills, edge rushing threat and veteran savvy that the Bengals sorely lacked heading into the 2013 offseason. Regardless of the position, osmosis works both ways for Harrison and the Bengals defense. A roster that includes many players with checkered pasts and character questions can really benefit from both the example, knowledge and leadership someone like Harrison brings.
“Guys look up to him and talk to him. I know he looks like the meanest guy that you’ve ever seen but he is a pretty cool dude,” cornerback Adam Jones said.