Pittsburgh Steelers: Jason Worilds Next Man Up After James Harrison Suspension

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Jason Worilds Next Man Up After James Harrison Suspension
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

November 14, 2004.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh has one of the most controversial players in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball, Joey Porter.

Prior to the game, Joey is disqualified for fighting with one of the Browns players.

Many people in Pittsburgh thought the Steelers could be in trouble without the key to their defense on the field.

Joey Porter was the kind of player that struck fear into other players. He was mean, nasty, liked to hit and liked to tell you he was going to hit you, before and after he did.

In came a young man named James Harrison, to take Porters place.

Harrison finished the game with eight tackles and a sack. paving the way for his future with the Steelers.

Harrison would go on to win two Super Bowls with the Steelers, be named Defensive Player of the Year and have the longest play from scrimmage in the history of the Super Bowl—a 100 yard interception return against the Cardinals.

At the time, losing Porter for that game seemed like a big deal. In the long term, it was possibly the best thing that could have happened for Harrison and the Steelers.

Will Jason Worilds be able to replace James Harrison against the 49ers?

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Back in 2004, Harrison spent most of his time playing on special teams. He made plays and waited his turn.

When he was called upon, he put to rest any concerns that Steelers Nation had about him being able to replace Porter. Not only for a day, but for his career.

So far this year, Jason Worilds has had numerous chances to show that he too can take the place of a legend.

James Harrison was injured for more than a month earlier in the season, as was LaMarr Woodley who has missed five games (and parts of others). Though Worilds has not shown that he is as good as Harrison, he has shown flashes of potential.

While Worilds played against the Browns, Chris Collinsworth said something to the effect that Worilds was a similar player to both Harrison and Woodley. Not too tall, but strong, fast and a straight out pass rusher.

Collinsworth said it as if it was a bad thing, meaning, how would Worilds be able to pass either Woodley or Harrison if he is a clone of them?

What I didn't understand at the time was, why would you NOT want to be a clone of two of the most feared players in the NFL?

No, the San Francisco 49ers offense will never be mistaken for the Green Bay Packers or New England Patriots offenses.

But to beat them this weekend, Worilds is going to need to step up his game and be the player the Steelers thought he was when they drafted him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

It was believed at the time that there was a chance the Steelers would allow LaMarr Woodley to leave as a free agent and have Worilds take his place. After signing Woodley to a long term contract extension last offseason, Worilds looks to be the eventual replacement for Harrison.

Now here we sit, seven years later, and James Harrison is the one that is suspended for a game. This time, Jason Worilds will be the man to get his number called. Will he be able to answer that call?

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