Farrior 'not going out easy'
James Farrior is the mortar of a usually brick-solid Steelers defense.
As the 36-year-old linebacker paced the sideline with his helmet dangling at his side Sunday, the defending AFC champions' defense looked like a soft mix of sand and water. It was vulnerable against a revenge-minded, physical Baltimore offense.
Farrior walked slowly onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium during a timeout to offer advice and encouragement to backup linebacker Larry Foote as the Ravens marched methodically downfield during a flawless, 12-play, 84-yard scoring drive.
It was an unusual situation for Farrior, who watched from the sideline during Baltimore's last three first-half possessions. He wasn't hurt, and he didn't ask for a breather.
"We made a commitment that both men (Farrior and Foote) were going to play," said coach Mike Tomlin after a humbling 35-7 season-opening defeat.
But Farrior's extended stay on the bench was curious, if not reflective of the fact that 15 years in the NFL has given Tomlin cause to save Farrior's body, even early in the season.
"We have to keep guys somewhat fresh when you can and take care of guys so they can make it through the season," said defensive end Aaron Smith, a 13-year veteran. "This is a marathon."
Farrior, though, isn't ready to be treated like a washed-up pitcher. He insisted throughout this week he'll be ready to go the distance when the Steelers host the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday.
"I don't know if I've saved my body, but I do think I've been really lucky," said Farrior, who had five tackles against Baltimore. "I've been blessed not to have any major injuries or have anything to hamper my play."
Farrior admittedly was a little sore earlier this week. He sat out Wednesday's practice.
"You always know you're going to be sore after the Baltimore game," Farrior said. "I'm used to that."
The Steelers, it seems, are preparing for a transition at linebacker. It's an undeniable reality.
"Our time is coming," receiver Hines Ward said. "(Farrior) is not going to grope about things. You can either complain or dwell about it or accept the role and move on."
Farrior is being pursued by the clock. And linebacker James Harrison is soldiering on despite two offseason back surgeries and a minor knee injury sustained during the opener.
Foote, Stevenson Sylvester and Jason Worilds will have their chances if Tomlin commits to a similar substitution pattern throughout the season.
"They are always looking for some younger and faster guy to replace you," said Farrior, who in 2008 signed a four-year contract extension through next season. "That's the way of the league. We understand that part of the business, but I'm not going out easy.
"It's been a long road, but it seems like it's going fast. I contribute my longevity to my offseason training. I do everything possible to be in the best shape."
The Steelers clearly are trying to reshape and infuse youth on an aging defense. The Steelers have eight defensive starters 30 or older -- including Farrior, Harrison, Smith, strong safety Troy Polamalu and free safety Ryan Clark.
"I'm trying to find the same fountain of youth that (Farrior) has found," said Clark, in his 10th season. "James is still making the same plays he's been making for years. We started rotating Larry Foote early last year, but even then James wasn't thinking about retirement."
Position/experience: Linebacker, 15th season
Highlights: Is signed through 2012 season ... First-round pick by New York Jets in 1997 ... Signed with Steelers as free agent before the 2002 season ... Had team-high 127 tackles in 2003 ... Was All-Pro selection in 2004 and made first Pro Bowl appearance.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Taylor ‘hurt’ by pay cut
- Steelers among teams using new helmet-camera technology
- Kovacevic: Steelers’ offensive identity, anyone?