Tomlin: 3 things leading into Patriots game

  1. Leading the way:* *There is no question linebacker James Harrison leads by example with a work ethic that is unmatched in almost all of professional sports. But with a lot of veterans departing on defense after last year, Harrison was asked to be more of a vocal leader by some. As far as Coach Mike Tomlin is concerned, though, as long as Harrison keeps providing the blueprint for young defenders, he is happy.

"It's more about what James does than what he says," said Tomlin. "We continually try to remind him that there is a lot of weight in what he says. He can provide a lot of positive direction for young people with his words. James is not a big talker. He is more of a doer and I buy into that in a big way. When you watch him he provides a blueprint of how to go about day to day business on the field and off."

Tomlin said the young linebackers definitely rely on Harrison's leadership, evident on Saturday morning when rookie Anthony Chickillo was alongside Harrison in the weight room on an off day.

"It's no question they gravitate to him," added Tomlin. "Most of those guys grew up on him. Bud (Dupree) was probably sitting around in a onesie pajama set when he watched James run down that sideline in Tampa a number of years ago. They hold that type of regard for him. What he says and does, they try to mimic. That is just good, sharp ball for young people."

  1. Carrying the load:* *Running back DeAngelo Williams will be carrying the load for the ground game this week against the Patriots with Le'Veon Bell suspended, and Tomlin said he isn't concerned about giving the veteran back plenty of work back there.

"I have a lot of confidence in DeAngelo," said Tomlin. "This is not his first rodeo by any stretch. He has been in the league for a decade. He is a 6,000 yard college rusher. He is an energy bringer, he is a hard worker. He has not only had a good offseason, but a good preseason. I am excited about watching him play."

  1. Communication counts: Injuries have prevented safeties Mike Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas from seeing a lot of time on the field together in the preseason, raising concerns about the communication between the two as the season opens. Tomlin said the additional practice time the team had and the fifth preseason game is helping to make up for some of the missed time together as they get communication down.

"It's very critical," said Tomlin of the communication. "We have had a lot of practice time. Aside from the additional preseason game, we had an additional week of practice. Hopefully that serves us largely in a lot of areas, particularly in the area (of communication) because they haven't logged a lot of in stadium time together."

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