My Biggest Bengals OTA Takeaway: James Harrison Fitting Right In

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May 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker James Harrison walks off the field after organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Despite going from a Dick Lebeau 3-4 defense to Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme, Harrison isn’t seeing much of a difference in his transition, which has him going from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 strong-side position, and that he thinks he’ll be used less in coverage and more as a pass-rusher in Cincinnati:

"I’m playing SAM, so I’m basically doing the same thing I do in a 3-4 defense. It’s just that I’ll switch where I’m lining up. I’ll be in a 40 or 30, stacked behind a tackle or guard or whatever it may be. And I’ll do my job from there. It’s really not that much of a difference. Actually, with some of the stuff they’re doing now, it looks like I may be rushing a little more than I had in previous years. I think I’ll be covering a little less here."

According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison surprisingly rushed the passer on just 37% of his snaps last season in Pittsburgh. On 40%, he defended the run, and the remaining 23% saw him drop back into coverage. He also ranked 14th in PFF’s Pass Rusher Productivity among qualified 3-4 linebackers.

Over the last two seasons, Harrison has notched 15 sacks, despite playing in just 24 of 32 games due to various injuries. For comparisons sake, Bengals linebackers have generated just 8.5 sacks over that same span!

Harrison notched 6 last year in just 12 games, so there’s no reason to think he won’t get at least that many if he plays in 13+ games.

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