Steelers

More Doubts About Defensive Health In Week 2

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James Harrison

The Steelers are hopeful linebacker James Harrison will be ready to play Sunday for the first time since off-season knee surgery. (File photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — According to Post-Gazette reporter and 93-7 The Fan Steelers insider Ed Bouchette, outside linebacker James Harrison will apparently be absent again due to left knee soreness when the New York Jets come to Heinz Field for a late Sunday afternoon game.

Despite expressing optimism before Thursday’s practice, Harrison did not participate in that session at all. Furthermore, judging by remarks from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a calf injury to safety and fellow Defensive Player of the Year honoree Troy Polamalu might be worse than originally feared.

“James is the player of the year a few years ago, so you know he’s a great player. But we’ve played without him and Troy, who won the [defensive] MVP award,” LeBeau told Bouchette. “We’ve played without him. Our guys know what’s required of them — they have to step up and fill the vacancy and push on. We miss those guys, we’ll be happy when we get them back, but it should never be a factor in who wins the game.”

Last year the Steelers went 4-1 when he did not play, but he’s only missed six games total in the last five years, during which the Steelers have won and reached a Super Bowl with him as a starter, and consistently ranked at or near the top of the NFL in total defense. Last Sunday, in a 31-19 season-opening loss at Denver, the pass rush sans Harrison didn’t have much of an answer for Peyton Manning, particularly in the second half.

He hasn’t played since an Aug. 15 surgery corrected an irritation in his bad knee. Chris Carter recorded one tackle in Week 1 as Harrison’s backup.

Polamalu, who walked with a pronounced limp at the beginning of the week, according to KDKA-TV’s Jory Rand, did not practice Thursday, either, nor did he hint about his status Wednesday. He registered five tackles in the Denver game.

On a separate injury note, running back Rashard Mendenhall, despite completing another practice session pain-free, is not expected to be back in Week 2.

Kickoff between the Steelers and Jets is set for 4:25 Sunday on KDKA-TV, with CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on the call.

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