Somewhat overshadowed by the long awaited arrival of wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers were also graced with the return of another star player on Tuesday—or, more accurately, the activation. Outside linebacker James Harrison, who began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, was activated from the list today, as was Jason Worilds, the top backup at Harrison’s position.
With Harrison (and Worilds) being activated, that means that he will not begin the regular season on the Reserve PUP list, which would require that he sit out the first six games of the season, at least.
While it is not guaranteed that he is ready to suit up on September 9 when the Steelers open their regular season schedule in Denver against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, it is certainly a strong indication that he will be ready sooner rather than later.
In addition, it means that, after a mandatory three day acclimation period, he can return to practice and all other football activities, which he would not have been able to do on the PUP list.
Harrison, a 5 time consecutive Pro Bowler and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had been battling a knee issue all offseason. Two weeks ago, he had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his troublesome knee in the hopes of alleviating the discomfort and allowing the knee to heal properly.
It appears that he is on the proper course now following the surgery. He said today in an interview that he is “feeling a lot better”, and a few hours later, he was removed from the PUP list. Obviously he will not be participating in the team’s final preseason game, but he has a good chance of being ready to start the season.
As mentioned, backup outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who started 7 games last season due to injuries and a suspension to both Harrison and fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, was also activated from the PUP list today. He is still recovering from offseason wrist surgery. He injured the wrist early last season, but played through the injury, and the training staff has been cautious getting him back.
The Steelers began training camp with 6 players on the PUP list: S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, OT Max Starks, RB Rashard Mendenhall, NT Casey Hampton, LB James Harrison, and LB Jason Worilds. Of the 6, only Mendenhall right now can likely be fairly ruled out from being ready week 1. Cromartie-Smith, however, is a long-shot to make the roster.
Having been activated from the PUP list, all who make the final roster must be carried on the roster or be put on injured reserve, ending their season.