James Harrison returned to practice Wednesday with one more hurdle to clear before playing again
November 3, 2011 4:00 AM
Linebacker James Harrison, talking with Troy Polamalu, right, returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since breaking the orbital bone around his right eye Oct. 2. The question: Will he/can he play Sunday?
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Don't count James Harrison out of the AFC North showdown Sunday night at Heinz Field -- even if James Harrison already did.
Harrison practiced for the first time Wednesday since the orbital bone around his right eye was broken Oct. 2 in a freak accident late in the Steelers game at Houston. After practice, all things seemed to be eye-OK.
"It felt good to be back out there practicing," Harrison said.
The return of the four time All-Pro linebacker to his position on the right outside of the defense would be a boost for a team that has lost the services of fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to a hamstring injury and inside linebacker James Farrior to a calf injury.
All three were officially listed by coach Mike Tomlin as having "limited" participation in practice Wednesday, but Harrison is the only one of the three with a chance to play when the first-place Steelers (6-2) play Baltimore (5-2), and it might be a good chance.
Harrison wrote Monday on Twitter that it "looks like I won't be playing this weekend" after he visited the doctor but was cleared to practice. After practice yesterday, however, he said he could be cleared to play this weekend if he passes another eye exam Friday or Saturday.
"I'll probably get scanned again, and they'll ask me how I'm feeling," said Harrison, the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2008.
It has been a rough year for Harrison. He had two back surgeries in March, started the season slowly because of it and then came the freak injury. A collision ripped off his chinstrap and the padding in the top of the helmet was violently shoved down into his eye.
"It blew out the bone underneath it," Harrison explained.
He wore a tinted visor in practice and will do so when he plays next -- he said he hopes doctors will clear him for Sunday. He warned, however, that he would leave the decision in their hands and not try to push them if they balk at him playing.
"I got two eyes. I'm not playing with my vision. So, if they say no, that's not something I'm willing to do."
Suggs stakes some claims
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs sacked Ben Roethlisberger three times Sept. 11, then boasted that he owns the Steelers quarterback. In a sense, he owns all Steelers quarterbacks.
Suggs has 131/2 sacks in the regular season against Steelers quarterbacks, more than any other opposing player, at least since the sack became official in 1982.
"No man owns anybody, but, if there is anybody that can bring him down by themselves, it's definitely me," Suggs said Wednesday about Roethlisberger.
"I am pretty sure he has something in store so I don't have a good day."
Suggs, on a conference call with the media in Pittsburgh, tried to explain why he plays so well against the Steelers.
"I consider Heinz Field my Madison Square Garden, in my eyes.
"If you are an opponent and you want to go into a hostile environment, what better place than Heinz Field? I am definitely the bad guy.
"I think throughout the league, with your guys' fans, I don't think there is a player that they hate more than me. But I love that. I love playing at Heinz Field, even though the fans hate me. Everything about the game, they bring it. They are a big part of the game. We are even looking forward to that song [Renegade] in the fourth quarter. It's going to be fun."
Suggs said he loves the rivalry between the teams.
"I am expecting a straight up, gang fight and brawl. ... We aren't going to be surprised if we go out there and get into a scuffle or a brawl. This is definitely football. It's football at its finest.
"It's definitely the most physical game of the year out of all 32 teams. We are looking forward to it.
"Tell 86, I hope he plays because it wouldn't be Baltimore-Pittsburgh without him. I would be really disappointed if 86 didn't play."
Ward says he will return
No. 86 laughed about Suggs' comments.
"I think you have to play in this rivalry for awhile to understand it," Hines Ward said.
"You have to understand the magnitude of it, what it means. ... They whipped our butt the first game. There's nothing we can really do about that; now we get a chance Sunday night in Heinz Field."
Ward promised he would play after missing the New England game last week with a sprained ankle.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world."
Casey at the bat
Casey Hampton issued a guarantee about the game Sunday, but not in any Joe Namath/Anthony Smith manner.
"I can't see that happening again," he said of Baltimore's 35-7 thrashing of the Steelers in the season opener. "If they beat us, they're going to beat us, but it's not going to be an out-tempo thing, where they're playing faster and with more intensity.
"I guarantee you that."
Hampton, who said after that opening loss that Baltimore's chop-blocking techniques took him by surprise, said he is more prepared for the Ravens if they use that kind of blocking scheme again Sunday.
"I haven't seen them doing it against a whole lot of people besides us. It worked last time, so I don't see why they would go to something different if it worked the last time."
• The Steelers will wear the throwback uniforms they have worn in recent years. Players also have been warned they are subject to fines if they continue to wear the pink (shoes, towels, gloves, etc) they sported during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
• The Steelers signed receiver Jamar Newsome to the practice squad and released defensive lineman Elisha Joseph.
• Receiver Emmanuel Sanders was in Texas, where his mother died this week. He also has a knee injury, and his status is unknown for Sunday.
• Besides Farrior, Harrison and Woodley, those listed as having a limited participation in practice were Ward and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle).