It looks like the knee injury to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is more serious than many thought. After not practicing for the second day in a row, Harrison has been ruled out for the Sunday night regular season opener versus the Denver Broncos.
Backup linebacker Chris Carter will start in place of the injured Pro Bowler. Carter has filled the void left by Harrison and second-string linebacker Jason Worilds throughout minicamp, training camp, and the preseason, taking reps with the first-team defense.
Harrison’s knee obviously didn’t react well to his first practice back this past Monday. Swelling in his knee reoccurred after trying to cut on it.
Having Harrison out of the picture for at least the first game of the regular season, more pressure will be put on linebackers Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, and LaMarr Woodley, along with the defensive line, to generate an effective pass rush against Peyton Manning and the Denver offense come Sunday night.
More importantly, the absence of the nine-year veteran will make Pittsburgh’s defense a little more vulnerable to a Broncos running game that led the NFL in rushing last season.
A few days ago, I revealed my predictions for the Steelers’ 2012 season, and I actually had them losing this game by the score of 24-20. This was mainly in part of not having safety Ryan Clark playing in this week’s game.
Now that Denver won’t have to worry about not one, but two Pro Bowlers on Pittsburgh’s defense, this just might make this game more favorable for the Broncos.
The early injuries to Pittsburgh’s roster will definitely affect their start of the season. This game on the road against Denver will challenge them without a doubt.
Unfortunately, I still do have the Steelers losing this game, but fortunately, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Pittsburgh will definitely get back on track after this game.
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