The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


August 23, 2008

Jim Wexell | Steelers making own news

News flash: The Steelers handed a 33-year-old linebacker a $5 million check.

That’s right, the age-conscious Steelers, who couldn’t get in the same ballpark with 31-year-old Alan Faneca and won’t even talk to 30-year-old Marvel Smith, have given a five-year contract to James Farrior.

Their reasons are sound.

Farrior is always in shape, hasn’t missed a game since November 2005, still has his speed and will mentor 21-year-old phenom Lawrence Timmons. But the biggest reason might’ve been the one written all over Keyaron Fox’s face.

Two weeks ago, the newcomer Fox admitted he was having trouble understanding his job – behind Farrior – as the playcaller, the buck linebacker, in Dick LeBeau’s defense.

“I’ve heard you never really fully get it,” Fox said. When told Farrior had admitted years later that he had no idea what he was doing his first year with the Steelers, the relief that came over Fox’s face made clear just how complex LeBeau’s defense is.

“Even though I’ve been here seven years, I’m still learning,” Farrior said Thursday. “There are always nuances to this defense you never knew. When you’ve been in it this long, you have a great understanding of it, but there’s always something that’s out there that you really didn’t know.”

He can run like a young man, with the wisdom of an old man. That’s why the Steelers paid James Farrior.

News flash: Steelers are finished talking contracts.

According to sources, these are the reasons the Steelers won’t be looking to extend the contracts of the remaining players entering the final years of contracts:

n Marvel Smith: History of neck and back problems make him too risky.

n Chris Kemoeatu: With two career starts, doesn’t deserve what his agent would seek.

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