Mixed signals on Harrison's availability

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
9:15
AM ET
The news early Thursday was that James Harrison was going to play Sunday against the Jets after the Steelers linebacker told a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter that he would do so. Hours later, Harrison continued to be a non-participant at practice, which cast doubts on whether he would suit up this weekend.

Harrison
Harrison
The headline in this morning's Post-Gazette read: "Harrison will not play Sunday." But when you read the article, it only says "Harrison looks like a no-go again."

So, is Harrison going to play or not? Friday's practice report will provide more conclusive information. If Harrison doesn't practice, which has been the case since he underwent a minor procedure on his knee Aug. 15, it's highly unlikely he will play Sunday. If he is limited, that would provide a sliver of hope he would be on the field chasing down Mark Sanchez.

Harrison has been one of the most durable linebackers in the league, which is why many believed he would be back by the season opener. Now, he is close to missing two games.

Wear and tear appears to be taking its toll on the 34-year-old Harrison. From 2007 to 2010, he missed one start in 64 games. Harrison had two back surgeries during the 2011 offseason and came back sooner than the doctor's timetable to play in that season's opener. This time, the Steelers' fast healer -- as coach Mike Tomlin once described him -- is taking longer than expected.

You still have to question whether this would be an issue if Harrison had the surgery in June instead of August. It's been reported that rest was expected to cure his knee ailment. Some believe Harrison pushed too hard to get back, which aggravated the knee. Whatever the case -- whether it was indecision or impatience -- the Steelers are paying the price for not having a five-time Pro Bowl player and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"I can't imagine how much it's bothering him," nose tackle Casey Hampton told the paper. "I think he thought he would be back by now, so I think that's making it a lot tougher on him."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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