Steelers defensive player to watch: OLB James Harrison

October 25, 2012

Steelers linebacker James Harrison will match up with Redskins left tackle Trent Williams for much of Sunday’s game. (Don Wright/Associated Press)

How he beats you: Big, strong and athletic, the 6-foot, 242-pound Harrison is known as one of the fiercest hitters in the league. He attacks passers and ball carriers with a vengeance. Last season he recorded 59 tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles in 11 games. The year before, he recorded 100 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 16 games. Harrison missed the first four games of this season with injury and has just one sack in three games, but he remains a tough assignment. 

 “Real physical, low center of gravity, perennial Pro Bowler. He’s got the total package. There’s nothing he can’t do,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said of the four-time Pro Bowl pick. “The way they rush, he might have one sack, but he might’ve caused a lot of sacks because of his ability to push the pocket.”

 Said Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan: “He’s one of the top guys in the league. … The guy’s a beast. He’s physical, he can move, he can throw people out of the way.”

 How to stop him: Williams will have to be on point Sunday. Now in his third season, he is having his best campaign so far. The key on Sunday will be consistency. As Shanahan pointed out, Williams can always do well against the top pass rushers in the league, but in the past he has been guilty of in-game letdowns, which lead to sacks here and there. This season, he has played much more consistently, and he’ll need to continue against Harrison, who wears opponents down with his strength.

 The key for Williams?

 “Just try to match his physicality. Really, that’s about all,” Williams said. “It’s hard to approach somebody like that, because if you’re not good, you could get embarrassed. I guess that’s my motivation.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Lenny Bernstein · October 25, 2012