PITTSBURGH – After participating in only half of Wednesday’s practice, James Harrison missed Thursday’s practice completely, and when he showed up in the locker room Harrison directed this reporter to a sign posted next to his locker that read:
“I will answer all questions on Fridays.”
Harrison signed the paper.
And there was another paper next to that one. It read:
“And only Fridays!!”
And that paper, too, was signed by Harrison, just in case anyone thought it might’ve been posted by his neighbor, rookie Adrian Robinson.
But Harrison gave this reporter the “A-OK” sign to go ahead and fire some questions at him anyway, and here’s the quick transcript:
Q. Does this mean you’ll miss the opener?
A. I don’t know. I’ll practice tomorrow, but we’ll see.
Q. Did it swell up again?
A. Nah, it just hurts.
Q. It looks a little swollen.
A. But it didn’t blow up like the last few times. Hey, it was something that was done just a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, any soft-tissue work you have done is an automatic four to six weeks.
Q. So you’re not going to play Sunday, are you?
A. We were trying to see if we could get there before four weeks, but it flared up a little bit. It didn’t really swell up, it just started hurting, so we’ll see tomorrow. I’ll practice tomorrow and see how I feel and we’ll go from there.
Q. Are you going to push it to play?
A. I’m not going to rush it. No, I’m not going to rush it.
IN THE BULLPEN
Chris Carter said that he and Jason Worilds rotated by series to replace Harrison at right outside linebacker at Thursday’s practice, and Carter wouldn’t presume that his full participation at training camp should make him the starter over Worilds, who has only practiced this week. However, LaMarr Woodley, the starting pass-rusher opposite Harrison, assumes that Carter would be Harrison’s first replacement.
“It’d be nice to have James out there,” Woodley said. “But you have to focus on who’s going to be out there, and I think Chris Carter’s been doing a great job throughout this whole training camp and preseason. A lot of people want to worry about the things he hasn’t had the opportunities to do, but that’s usually the time to shine, when people don’t really respect you out there on the football field. I think he’s going to be great.”
Last season Carter played in eight games as he struggled with a hamstring injury. He played linebacker in two games and special teams the rest of the time. He was credited with only 1 tackle and 1 special-teams tackle. But he’s a new man this year. This preseason Carter had a sack, 3 quarterback hits and 7 tackles.
“I’ve worked hard and done the best that I can,” he said. “So I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may.”
MENDENHALL LIKELY OUT
Running back Rashard Mendenhall looked very good on Monday, but he was nowhere to be seen Thursday. Did he practice?
“Not really,” Mendenhall said. “A little bit.”
So it’s unlikely that Mendenhall will play Sunday night in Denver, but that really hasn’t been in his plans. The key is that he’s nearing full strength after rehabilitating an ACL injury from New Year’s Day.
“I feel good,” he said. “I worked every day, so everything to this point is the best I could’ve done.”
Mendenhall said he’s been cutting on the leg since the team was in Latrobe and reports that all is well in that department.
“I’m making natural cuts with no hesitation or anything like that,” he said. “It can get sore here and there but that’s to be expected.”
The other issue with Mendenhall this week is his contract, which will expire at the end of this season.
Normally, the Steelers would be holding 11th-hour discussions with him, particularly since the Mike Wallace talks appear to be stalled, but Mendenhall hasn’t heard anything from his agent.
“I’ve been more focused on this rehab process,” he said. “At some point I’ll be talking to my agent and figure everything out, but I really haven’t started to get into that at all.”
But it remains a possibility all the way up until the door shuts on the team plane Saturday afternoon.
ILB Larry Foote (ankle) returned to the practice field and he expects to play Sunday. Joining Harrison and Mendenhall on the sidelines were ILB Stevenson Sylvester (knee), OG David DeCastro (knee) and RB Baron Batch (groin).