On the Steelers: Harrison suffers another setback
Linebacker leaves facility before practice as left knee responds adversely to full practice Tuesday; hopes for Oct. 7 return
September 27, 2012
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It was a bye week for his teammates. For linebacker James Harrison, it turned into a goodbye week.
The hope that the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker expressed about the condition of his left knee after practicing Tuesday, turned to disappointment Wednesday when he left the Steelers training facility before practice because his knee bothered him.
"It's a little bit of a setback," said agent Bill Parise, who spoke with Harrison after he went home. "Hopefully, it's not something that will derail our plans."
The knee's adverse reaction to his second full practice of the year does not bode well.
Harrison, 34, who had surgery on his knee Aug. 15, practiced Tuesday. Afterward, he wrote on Twitter: "Just finished my first day of full practice, hopefully everything goes well tomorrow!"
That hope now seems out the window, and it looks more like Harrison will miss his fourth game when the Steelers resume play Oct. 7 against Philadelphia at Heinz Field. The Steelers have four days off and return to practice Monday.
Harrison missed most of the spring practices because of the ailing knee, then was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to open training camp. The arthroscopic surgery removed some cartilage in the meniscus that was thought to cause swelling. He did not practice at all in camp and did not become eligible until the Steelers removed him from the PUP list Aug. 28.
He went through a full practice the Monday before the season opener, was limited in the next practice Wednesday and had not practiced since until Tuesday.
Harrison, the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2008, missed five games last season, four with a broken orbital bone, one because of an NFL suspension for an illegal hit. Before that, he was somewhat of an iron man.
Taking his place at right outside linebacker have been two young players. Chris Carter, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011, has started all three games. Jason Worilds, a second-round pick in 2010 who also spent all of training camp on the PUP following wrist surgery, rotates with Carter.
"I think that's the main thing coach [Keith Butler] likes to do is keep us fresh out there, especially with us being two young guys," Carter said. "So he rotates us as much as he can."
The two of them have not come close to the impact play that Harrison produced. Worilds has one sack and one quarterback pressure. Carter has no sacks or pressures, but two pass deflections.
Harrison has made the Pro Bowl each of his five seasons as a starter. He ranks fourth in team history with 58 official sacks and his 26 forced fumbles rank second. He set the Steelers record with 16 sacks in 2008, when he also had seven forced fumbles.
The Steelers have five sacks this season.
"James is an amazing player, so we take it as a badge of honor to be able to step in for such an accomplished player," Carter said.
• Unlike Harrison, Troy Polamalu has gone through two full practices this week and could be ready to return to play against the Eagles. Polamalu missed the past two games because of a calf injury.
• Rookie tackle Mike Adams, who missed the game last week because of a back injury, also appears to be recovered.
• Safety Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 by the NFL for his hit that knocked out Oakland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, ESPN reported.