PITTSBURGH — Maurkice Pouncey said James Harrison has erased his Steelers’ legacy, Bud Dupree lashed out at those who labeled Harrison “a victim” and Mike Mitchell said he wouldn’t have sold out the way Harrison did.

Thursday, the Steelers were a lot quieter about their former teammate.

Asked about Harrison’s release and subsequent signing with the rival New England Patriots, defensive coordinator Keith Butler answered, “I respectfully say this: I don’t think it’s fair to this team, or fair to James, or fair to the organization, so right now I do not want to talk about it and I am not going to address it.”

On Thursday, Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he asked the Steelers to release him on multiple occasions this season. He was finally let go on Saturday and signed by the Patriots this week.

Be it fatigue from talking about the Steelers’ all-time sacks leader, a desire to avoid controversy or an edict from Coach Mike Tomlin, Steelers players didn’t want to talk on the record about Harrison on Thursday.

PATRIOTS: Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell practiced Thursday for the first time since Sept. 6. New England designated Mitchell to return from injured reserve and started a 21-day clock to determine whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Mitchell could return as early as Sunday against the New York Jets or as late as Jan. 17 in time for a possible AFC Championship Game. Or like linebacker Shea McClellin, who suffered another concussion while trying to return from injured reserve in November, the Patriots could shelve him.

This was a positive development for Mitchell; about a month ago, the Patriots still felt Mitchell’s knee wouldn’t recover in time to play this season.

The 2016 fourth-round draft pick had a strong rookie season with 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns, and added six catches for 70 yards in the Super Bowl. However, his second season has been completely derailed by a string of knee issues.

Tom Brady sat out practice because of left shoulder and Achilles ailments that bothered him earlier in the season. He will play on Sunday, according to a source. He didn’t suffer any setbacks when the Patriots beat the Bills last Sunday.

Brady had a minor shoulder sprain in October and suffered a bruised Achilles in Week 11. He sat out four practices in a three-week span because of the Achilles, but had been a full participant in every practice over the past two weeks.

There isn’t any concern the injuries will impact Brady against the Jets.

JAGUARS: The team received permission from the NFL and sponsors to remove tarps from four sections of seats and sell more tickets to its first home playoff game since the 1999 season.

Following a presale to season-ticket holders, the Jaguars sold out of available tickets in about an hour Wednesday.

The team then approached the league and corporate sponsors who pay to advertise on the tarps about opening up the 3,501 additional seats. The NFL and the sponsors agreed. The extra tickets will go on sale Friday morning.


BILLS: Buffalo activated safety Colt Anderson after he missed the past 11 weeks with a broken forearm.

DOLPHINS: Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen says former offensive line coach Chris Foerster is doing well in the wake of a video scandal that cost him his job in October.

Foerster resigned, apologized and said he was seeking medical help after a video on social media appeared to show him snorting lines of white powder while sweet-talking a Las Vegas model.

“I have stayed in touch with him,” Christensen said Thursday. “He’s a good friend, and I think things are going well for him. That’d probably be all I’d want to say, is that he’s doing well. He’s working hard and he’s a good man, and he’ll work on his life just like the rest of us.”

BROWNS: Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas says Cleveland’s coaching situation will have no bearing on his decision whether to keep playing.

Thomas played in just seven games this season before tearing his left triceps on Oct. 22 and undergoing season-ending surgery. Before that, the 10-time Pro Bowler never missed a snap in his NFL career, playing 10,363 consecutive offensive snaps.

The 33-year-old put off his decision on continuing his career until the offseason. Thomas wants to discuss his future with his family and said he will put his health first.

SAINTS: New Orleans placed edge pass rusher Hau’oli Kikaha on injured reserve, ending his season. New Orleans filled his spot on the roster by bringing back Kasim Edebali, who spent the previous three seasons with the club.

Rookie running back Alvin Kamara says the NFL fined him $6,079 for wearing Christmas-themed red cleats with white trim during last Sunday’s victory over Atlanta.

Kamara says it was worth it and says he’s hoping to parlay publicity from the banned cleats into a fundraiser to help supply athletic footwear to children whose families struggle to afford it.