If you have been following my post all offseason and listening to the podcast, you know all about my level of concern regarding the health of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison heading into the 2012 season. That concern has been even greater ever since Harrison has failed to practice since the first week of OTA\'s due to some sort of knee problem. In fact, Harrison hasn\'t even been working on the side with the other players on the PUP list for some time now as he has been mostly relegated to working out in the weight room under the supervision of the training staff.
Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times reports Tuesday evening that knee that has been bothering Harrison might now need to be scoped and cleaned up prior to the start of the season, which by the way is less than a month away now. Bires talked to Harrison\'s agent, Bill Parise, and reports that Parise told him that the minor surgery could be forthcoming for Harrison if his knee does not respond well when he his potentially removed from the PUP list.
“With the exception of this little knee thing, James is probably healthier now that he’s been in three years,” Parise said, via the report by Bires. “He’s extremely fit. He just has to get this irritation behind his knee cap cleared up. That’s what’s causing the swelling, and (the Steelers) just want to get rid of that."
Parise reportedly added, “So we might even look at doing a scope of that to get it cleaned up. We’ll just have to wait see how it plays out.”
Bires also reports in his story that Parise said in the interview that he thinks the Steelers right outside linebacker may be taken off the PUP list in a week or two to see how his knee responds to practice. If it doesn\'t respond well, and the swelling continues, Harrison would need the procedure done as soon as possible with hopes that he would be ready for the week 1 game against the Denver Broncos.
Another thing that everyone needs to keep in mind is that Harrison would likely miss all of the preseason as a result of the minor surgery and his practice time would be very limited; if any at all, up until the game against the Broncos. In addition, removing him from the PUP list is dangerous, because if the knee doesn\'t respond well and more recovery time is needed than initially thought, Harrison would no longer be eligible for the Reserve PUP list once he practices. You would think that merely putting him through several tough workouts on the side first, before activating from the PUP list, would be the best course of action to see how the knee responds. I of course am not a doctor though and defer to the Steelers excellent medical staff and team physicians.
I have stated a few times this offseason that I didn\'t think that Harrison would be healthy enough to play in every game this season and this knee problem certainly will not help with his ability to do that. To make matters worse, his backup Jason Worilds has yet to practice all offseason after undergoing wrist surgery. Like Harrison, Worilds remains on the PUP list and there has been no word as of yet when he will begin practicing either.
With both Harrison and Worilds sidelined, second year linebacker Chris Carter continues to take all of the first team snaps at right outside linebacker and started there this past Thursday in the Steelers first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
This is one of those occasions when I wish I was not right about something, so keep your fingers crossed that this winds up not being too serious or long-term in nature.