Steelers Notebook: Harrison pleads case to NFL brass


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Steelers linebacker James Harrison pleaded his side to the NFL Tuesday morning when he appealed two fines totaling $95,000.

"We told our side of the story and I think we told it well," said Bill Parise, Harrison's agent.

The appeal came in the form of a conference call among Parise and Harrison in Pittsburgh, NFL Players Association legal counsel Todd Flanagan in Washington, D.C., and two unnamed men from the NFL commissioner's office in New York.

Harrison appealed the $75,000 fine the NFL issued him for what it called an illegal hit of Cleveland wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi Oct. 17, and for another on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees Oct. 31.

Parise predicted a ruling within 10 days.

"James opened both hearings with his view of his actions, the motivation for his actions and what happened," Parise said. "His story has been consistent from day one: If I'm fined for Massaquoi hit at all it's wrong. He didn't do anything wrong."

Harrison maintains that it was the actions of the receiver who caused the hit to his head and that it never involved helmet-to-helmet. He also said in his appeal that his helmet never struck Brees in the back but that it went to his side.

"Did we do any good? I don't know. We certainly made our case," Parise said.

'Laundry list' of injuries

Besides a neck injury that could end the season for left tackle Max Starks, coach Mike Tomlin is hopeful that seven other players injured Monday in the Steelers' 27-21 victory against Cincinnati will be available to play Sunday against the Patriots.

"We've got somewhat of a laundry list," Tomlin said. "We're working off of a short week. ... I'm sure many of these guys will be available for the contest, but they have limited preparation."

Tomlin said he might consider dressing additional offensive linemen next week to "insulate" the team from injury woes, as he did against Cincinnati with defensive linemen.

"Obviously, the offensive line is a concern," Tomlin said.

In addition to Starks, offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey (bruised tibia) and Chris Kemoeatu (sprained knee) missed time Monday night in Cincinnati.

Tomlin said Pouncey, who returned to the game after the injury, "will be fine." Kemoeatu could miss some practice time early this week, but Tomlin said he hopes his left guard will get some snaps in practice before Sunday.

Three players -- safety Will Allen and running backs Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman -- sustained concussions against Cincinnati and will undergo post-concussion tests early this week. Their status for the Patriots game depends on their progress throughout the week.

Defensive lineman Brett Keisel played just a handful of downs against Cincinnati after making his first start since straining his hamstring Oct. 17.

Tomlin expects Keisel to continue to work through his injury and will evaluate his status later this week.

Tight end Heath Miller had fluid on his knee, but it should not affect him for more than a few days, Tomlin said.

The only active player Tomlin ruled out of Sunday's game was defensive end Aaron Smith, who tore a tendon in his left arm in the Steelers' 23-22 victory against Miami Oct. 24.

Tomlin said he is concerned with the high number of injuries, but he said it will not change his expectations.

"I'm more concerned about the readiness of the able-bodied guys and the guys who are going to ultimately play for us. ... If we have an opportunity to get the healthy guys prepared, then we're not going to make excuses about injuries, who's available and who's not," Tomlin said. "We believe, to the core, that we'll go out and play with 46 guys that are capable."

Praise for Patriots

Tomlin praised the much-maligned Patriots' defense, which ranks 29th in the NFL allowing 386.5 yards per game this season.

"They're 6-2," Tomlin said. "That speaks to a pretty good defense."

Praising Cleveland

The Patriots are the second opponent in three weeks the Steelers will face that is coming off a loss to the Browns. Tomlin went out of his way to do something few in Pittsburgh would ever do -- he praised the Browns. "I don't know why everyone's surprised that Cleveland plays well," he said.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.


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