Harrison a game-time decision for Sunday's contest vs. Broncos
Steelers linebacker James Harrison, still recovering from minor left knee surgery last month, did not practice again Friday and appears unlikely to play Sunday in the season opener at Denver.
“The knee didn't feel too good, and they (team physicians) want to let it rest and see if rest will help it,” said Harrison, who also didn't practice Thursday. “They'll make a decision when the game comes.”
Under coach Mike Tomlin, players who have not practiced Friday typically have not played that week.
Harrison said he prefers to play, but second-year linebacker Chris Carter is likely to get the start against the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Carter, who played mostly special teams last season, started all four preseason games at right outside linebacker.
“I'm just trying to stay prepared for any situation,” Carter said. “I really don't try to get too involved with what's going on with James. If he can't play, then I have to be ready.”
Harrison missed five games last season after suffering a fractured orbital bone in Week 4. He missed another because of a suspension following an illegal hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy.
It's a setback for the nine-year veteran, who earlier this week appeared confident he would be ready to play in the rematch of the wild-card game Denver won, 29-23, in overtime. Harrison was held out of practice the past two days, partly because of irritation and soreness on his surgically repaired knee.
“There was a little swelling, but nothing major,” Harrison said. “There was more irritation, a little pain and some soft tissue hasn't healed yet.
“If the game was today, I couldn't play. It's just sore.”
Harrison's absence is significant. The inexperienced Carter will be tested by one of the league's best quarterbacks, Peyton Manning. However, most of his teammates are confident Carter can fill the void.
“We still have play on Sunday,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. “It's nothing against James; we can't be disappointed by guys you may not have when it's time to play.
“I think each and every one of these guys on this defense believes in Chris Carter. If he wasn't any good, he wouldn't be in there.
“You've got to work with what you've got,” Woodley added. “In the NFL, that guy behind you should be ready to go and happy the opportunity is there.”
Still, nose tackle Casey Hampton suggested it would give the Steelers a lift to have Harrison in the lineup.
“It definitely gives us a boost having him out there,” Hampton said. “But we can't have a dropoff with the young guys replacing him.”
Hampton said he expects if there's any chance Harrison can play, he will. However, it's a chance safety Troy Polamalu cautions against taking.
“It's important to get healthy because it's such a long season,” Polamalu said. “There's been plenty of times when I should have taken quite a few games off from injuries.
“A guy like (Harrison) has made his name off pushing through and overcoming a lot of things. A lot of guys play injured, and some have been literally paralyzed almost, not being able to feel their legs or having tingling in their legs. It puts a lot of things in perspective about sacrifice and commitment.”
Ralph N. Paulk is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison open for larger role
- Steelers’ Brown: Attendance ‘never a doubt’ for offseason workouts
- Steelers interested in playing internationally again
- Steelers claim QB-turned-WR Gardner
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Steelers safety Holliman is real enigma
- Penn State tight end James, a South Allegheny grad, goes to Steelers in 5th round
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Bucs draft PSU tackle Smith with second-round pick