Amid the buzz created by the news that Pro Bowl wide receiver may be heading toward Pittsburgh to sign his $2.7 million tender and end his holdout, Pittsburgh Steelers fans received even more good news from one of the defensive standouts. Out since the start of training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, linebacker James Harrison talked openly about being ready for the season opener against the Denver Broncos.
While he states that he needs but a few days to get ready, he has also been encouraged by the development of second-year linebacker Chris Carter, who has taken over on the outside in his absence. Carter has had his moments during camp and games, and has the look of at least solid rotational or situational linebacker.
While Harrison remains on the PUP list, two players returned to the field after their stint on the list, as running back Rashard Mendenhall (ACL) and nose tackle Casey Hampton (ACL) returned to the practice field after their CBA mandated orientation days. Luckily, for these two, there does not seem to be a need to rush their recovery as back up players have taken a larger role in their stead. Yes, the Steelers need both, but like Harrison, there is no need to rush their recoveries.
The same cannot be said for offensive tackle Max Starks (ACL), who returned from the PUP list late last week. After sitting out Sunday’s game, Starks returned to his familiar spot as the first team left tackle on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside. His health may be just as important to the offense, as Harrisons’ is for the defense, as rookie Mike Adams does not appear close to ready to help solidify the left side of the offensive line.
As Starks returned to action with the starters, one projected first-teamer, Isaac Redman, only returned to practice in a limited capacity, and will not likely suit up Saturday against the Buffalo Bills due to his hip injury. In his absence, running back Jonathan Dwyer will get another shot to impress and build upon his eye opening preseason.
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