James Harrison suffered a setback on Wednesday, needing arthroscopic surgery on his knee to remove debris that had been causing swelling since the spring. While that should help long-term, it also means that his injury could put his status in question for the Pittsburgh Steelers' regular season opener.
The Steelers haven't put a timetable on his return quite yet, as they want to see how the knee responds, but head coach Mike Tomlin did tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that it "shouldn't be long."
If Harrison is forced to miss the first week, it's going to cause a bigger problem than it normally would as the Steelers are scheduled to open up on the road against the Denver Broncos. The altitude worries linebacker coach Keith Butler already, but that's compounded if he's missing one of his stars atop the depth chart.
"We might just sub a little bit more," said Butler, a former linebacker who played a decade for the Seattle Seahawks. "That first game is going to be tough, it's going to be in Denver, it's going to be at Mile High. People say there's nothing to the thin air out there but that's [nonsense]; I played there for 10 years so I know what it is. Denver was in our division when I played and there's some acclimation involved, especially in the first half."
The Post-Gazette story goes on to say that the Steelers had hoped rest would cure the injury, but the team believes that Harrison may have went harder than he should have during the rehab process and actually injured his knee further.