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Steelers notebook: Colbert keeping options open on Harrison return

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By Alan Robinson
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 8:09 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Steelers' stance on free agent outside linebacker James Harrison: never say never.

The former Pro Bowl linebacker wants to return to his former team and, general manager Kevin Colbert said Sunday, “That obviously remains an option. But it's something that we have to decide if it's the best thing for the organization at that point.”

Nothing major

Despite the numerous proposals before the powerful Competition Committee, of which Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is a first-year member, it doesn't appear any major changes will be enacted Monday.

The most likely to pass are those adding additional cameras along the goal lines, sidelines and end lines to aid replay reviews, and to extend the goal post uprights by 5 feet to better judge field goals. However, no modification of the extra point is expected.

Tomlin on board

The league's officiating center in New York might expand its role by consulting with referees during replays. But as Steelers president Art Rooney II said last week, that already occurs. “It does, so that's why I am in favor of it,” Tomlin said. “I think what we are looking for is consistency, regardless of what stadium you are in. In an effort to move to that perfection, we need to consider utilizing experts in technology.”

Head of the class

Colbert recently called this the best NFL draft class in 30 years, and he said, “As we've made our way around to the pro days, and, of course the combine, it's reinforced that. It's a strong group. We'll lose a couple of guys along the way with medical or character issues that may come up, but for the most part, it's been very encouraging.”

Colbert on Cotchery

Losing wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery to the Panthers, Colbert said, “was a disappointment because he was a productive guy for us and really found his niche and had a comfort zone with Ben (Roethlisberger). Other people saw that same production at this stage of his career, and they were able to do some things financially that we weren't able to do.”

Quick adjustment

The Steelers don't believe strong safety Troy Polamalu will need long to adjust to playing with free safety Mike Mitchell, even after playing eight seasons with Ryan Clark.

“I know Troy had some anxieties when Chris Hope left, and he and Ryan Clark became inseparable almost. Troy is a special player, and I'm sure once he gets to know Mike, and Mike gets to know Troy, and they begin to work together, I think there will be a comfort zone they'll find,” Colbert said.

Building blocks

The departure of LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foote takes away much of the experience among the Steelers linebackers, with Lawrence Timmons now the most tenured player there. “But we don't expect those guys to stay the same,” Tomlin said. “We expect (Jason) Worilds to grow. We expect Lawrence Timmons to grow. We expect Jarvis Jones to grow. We don't expect those that remain to remain the same.”

New additions

Newly added defensive lineman Cam Thomas is capable of playing defensive end as well as nose tackle, Colbert said. He called wide receiver Lance Moore “a very smart, experienced receiver that knows how to work in the slot.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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