PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers and James Harrison have said it is too early to tell what his role will be after returning to the NFL less than three weeks after officially announcing his retirement.
But former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said on ESPN that is it not realistic to expect Harrison to play a significant role early if at all this season.
Harrison practiced on Wednesday for the first time since last January and he said afterward that he felt "horrible."
Harrison is expected to suit up Sunday against the visiting Buccaneers -- "I don't think Mike (Tomlin) brought him back not to dress him," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said -- and back up Arthur Moats at right outside linebacker.
“I think you could see him play five to 10 snaps in that limited pass-rush role,” Dominik said of what he expects to see from Harrison in his first game with the Steelers since 2012. “I think at the end of the day you’ll be lucky if James Harrison become a 20- to 25-snap guy. He knows what to do in the system, and that’s the No. 1 thing, it’s just that can he get his body to do it? That's going to take a little bit of time.”
Dominik applauded the approach that Steelers used in bringing back Harrison with the NFL under siege for its recent handling of domestic assault incidents. Harrison was arrested for simple assault in 2008 after hitting his girlfriend but he said on Wednesday that he learned from the incident.
"I liked James Harrison’s answer. I think he believes he’s moved on and you’ve got to trust that after six years he has moved on,” said Dominik, an ESPN NFL analyst. “You haven’t heard or seen another incident and so therefore I think it’s in the past. I like the way the Steelers handled it. They put the head coach right up to him, talked to him about here’s where we’re at, here’s what we’re doing forward.”