Will James Harrison spill secrets to New England Patriots? Pittsburgh Steelers unconcerned
Have the New England Patriots gained a significant advantage in a possible playoff matchup with the Steelers next month?
Will their coaches and players have insights into the Steelers' gameplan and playbook now that they've signed longtime Steelers linebacker James Harrison?
Don't bet on it, say a handful of players in the Steelers locker room who have similarly switched teams in the midst of a season.
"I think that's something just the fans talk about," veteran cornerback Coty Sensabaugh said Wednesday morning, Dec. 28. "They make a bigger deal than it actually is."
Sensabaugh would know, probably better than any current Steelers player. Early last season, the Los Angeles Rams cut Sensabaugh just three games played into a three-year contract. Sensabaugh quickly was signed by the New York Giants – and as fate would have it, the Giants played at the Rams two weeks later.
New York won that game, 17-10 — but it wasn't necessarily because of all the juicy information Sensabaugh shared with his new teammates.
"At the end of the day, the tape tells itself," he said, "so everybody knows what everybody does anyway. You watch all that on film — (but) you still have got to go out there and win against it or stop it."
Rodgers couldn't help Texans: Just last week, in a transaction that's level of newsworthiness was in a different stratosphere than Harrison's release four days later, the Steelers cut young offense tackle Jake Rodgers off their practice squad. It was Houston Texans who signed Rodgers — the same Texans whom the Steelers were playing that following Monday.
Considering the Steelers beat Houston handily, 34-6, it was apparent that any information Rodgers shared with Texans coach Bill O'Brien either wasn't relevant or didn't help.
Stevan Ridley was signed to the Steelers' active roster the same day that Rodgers was released off the practice squad. Ridley has been cut and re-signed by somebody else five times in-season since 2015, so he knows if and how coaches tend to pick the brains of new players in regards to scouting their previous teams.
"Hey, will they ask? Sure. Have I been asked? Sure," Ridley said. "But it's still football at the end of the day.
"As much as information you may get or may not get, does it really matter when those lights come on?"
Count Fitzgerald Toussaint as similarly unconcerned that Harrison might serve as a Steelers soothsayer for Bill Belichick in a possible AFC championship game 3 ½ weeks from now.
"Nothing I'm concerned about," said Toussaint, who four weeks after being released by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 played against them as a member of the heated-rival Steelers. "Everyone puts on their pants the same as us. We've got to be prepared for anything."
Roethlisberger's take: No player has shared an NFL locker room with Harrison longer than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said he talked about what Harrison might tell his new team with his wife Tuesday night.
"She was asking if he knew much of our no-huddle stuff and I said I don't think he knows a lot of it," Roethlisberger said. "I'm sure he's heard some of the same things for a lot of years now. Maybe some of it, but (a potential game against New England) is a long way off."
Roethlisberger noted that the Steelers played the Browns in the regular-season opener eight days after they traded receiver Sammie Coates to them.
"That was a big concern of ours (with him) knowing our offense," Roethlisberger said. "That's on James. If they want to ask him every single piece of information he has, then … other people do that too. I'm not worried about that."
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.