Bengals linebacker James Harrison took a break from the massage table on Wednesday to talk about the transition from playing in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense to the 4-3 look favored by Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Harrison said that he’s been picking up the defense gradually despite occasional stumbles with the terminology used in Cincinnati. In general, Harrison feels like people worried about his ability to fit in the new scheme are making too big a deal of the differences between the defenses run by the two AFC North squads.
“Yes, you all do,” Harrison said, via the Bengals website. “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.”
And Harrison says that job description won’t be too different than it was in Pittsburgh. While 4-3 linebackers tend to have more coverage responsibilities, Harrison said that he expects to be rushing the passer “a little more” in 2013 than he did with the Steelers in the last couple of years. Thanks to the presence of other skilled pass rushers in Cincinnati, Harrison added that Zimmer has come up with ways to isolate Harrison in single coverage on some of those rushes.
That bodes well for Harrison’s chances of making an impact in his first season away from the Steelers.