After adding the 39-year-old James Harrison late in the season, it was unclear how extensively the Patriots would use the veteran linebacker. Following New England’s divisional round win over the Titans on Saturday, it’s clear both in word and deed that Bill Belichick has trust in Harrison.
The Patriots defense utilized Harrison on 30 defensive snaps (45 percent of their defensive plays) in the 35-14 win. And Belichick added lavish praise when he spoke with the media on Sunday:
He’s been good to work with. He’s a very, as we know, a very experienced player and even though some of our terminology is different he understands basic football concepts very well and what his responsibility is and how to play that responsibility. He’s been good. He’s been very dependable. The things he’s been asked to do, he’s done.
You can count on him and that’s a good thing. It allows everybody to play aggressively and he’s an aggressive player. He’s been productive. He had several good plays against the run last night, caused a penalty and that was part of stopping a drive with his good play out there on the perimeter. He’s given us some plays in pass rush and he’s got good awareness in pass coverage. He’s dropped into coverage and he’s done a good job on that in a couple of examples of that the last two games. He’s been good to work with.
He’s very professional , wants to do well, studies, asks questions. I’ve enjoyed working with him.
Harrison joined the Patriots the day after Christmas after he was cut by the Steelers.