Hours after welcoming back Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace, the team announced that stud linebacker James Harrison and top backup Jason Worilds had been taken off the physically unable to perform list. Both players could possibly be available when Pittsburgh opens up the regular season at Denver on Sept. 9.
The return of the two linebackers comes as welcome news to a proud unit that looked very old and equally as vulnerable after being ravaged by injuries last year.
“I’ll be alright,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday of his comeback from recent knee surgery. “It’s feeling a lot better actually.”
Neither Harrison, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, nor Worilds has practiced since the spring. Neither will dress for the Steelers’ preseason finale against the visiting Carolina Panthers.
But their move to the team’s active roster signals that both men are very close to resuming practice and playing in a game, even if not the season opener.
Harrison, a rugged 6-foot, 242-pounder and four-time Pro Bowler, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his aching left knee two weeks ago. He’s been outspoken of his intention to play against the Broncos, but that remains to be seen. If not, he would certainly be back in the lineup for the following week’s home game against the New York Jets.
Harrison said he would need just a few practices before being ready to go.
The joint first began bothering Harrison this spring during minicamp. The former Kent State star tried to play through it, but it flared up every time he tried to cut.
Worilds, a second-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2010, underwent surgery on his left wrist in the spring and had been unable to hinge his wrist enough to take on blockers. He will have to wear a brace upon his return.