The Pittsburgh Steelers released James Harrison before the official beginning of free agency, leaving another hole in the depth chart to fill for 2013. Linebacker Jason Worilds appears to be the top candidate to fill Harrison's shoes, as Mike Tomlin says he's ready to see what the 25-year-old brings to the table.
"We'll see what Jason Worilds is capable of doing," Tomlin said at the NFL's Annual Meeting in Phoenix. The Steelers head coach appears to be ready to hand Worilds a new role in the defense after he served as a part-time player in his first three seasons.
We've seen the scenario play out in Pittsburgh before. Joey Porter was released back in 2007, leaving Harrison with high expectations to fill. It's safe to say Harrison transitioned well after that point. The Steelers are hoping Worilds can repeat the same success.
As the Steelers move towards a younger roster, questions of leadership continue to arise. Harrison is a 34-year-old veteran with a lengthy tenure in Pittsburgh. While cutting him saved cap space, it left another void to fill on and off the field. Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall and Keenan Lewis are all out of the picture as well. Now you have four team leaders missing. Who steps up to fill their roles?
"I don't think we're devoid of leadership at all," Tomlin said. He knows what his team has lost over the past few weeks. The Steelers will have to rely on some of the younger players to step up in 2013. Replacing someone like James Harrison isn't an easy task. We'll see how well Worilds handles his new duties.