If Steelers LB James Harrison Needs Knee Surgery, Why Did He Not Do so Earlier?

Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVAugust 15, 2012

James Harrison's knee has been bothering him since the spring, but if he gets surgery, it won't be for another few weeks.
James Harrison's knee has been bothering him since the spring, but if he gets surgery, it won't be for another few weeks.Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times reported on Wednesday that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has spent the past two weeks of training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with knee inflammation, may in fact need arthroscopic surgery in order to take the field for the 2012 season.

Harrison's knee has been bothering him since minicamp in the spring, and he will likely be activated off of the PUP list soon to see how it responds to practice. If the swelling remains or increases, the result will likely be an arthroscopic procedure that could put his ability to play at the start of the regular season in jeopardy.

Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, said that surgery is something he, Harrison and the Steelers would want done "sooner than later," as there's a chance that Harrison could be ready for the season opener at the Denver Broncos.

But considering that Harrison has been dealing with this issue since at least May, it is rather confounding that he wouldn't have opted for the surgical procedure sooner. If he would have had the surgery earlier in the offseason, then Harrison would have been healthy enough to participate in most of training camp and in preseason games.

Further, Harrison's primary backup, Jason Worilds, has also been sitting out of training camp while he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. Though he's tentatively expected back soon, there have been few updates on his progress since the beginning of August, and there's little chance we'll see him in the preseason.

That leaves just Chris Carter to take Harrison's outside linebacker spot with the first-team defense. But if Harrison would have addressed his knee problem sooner, that may not presently be the case.

The potential impending surgery isn't terribly disconcerting when it comes to Harrison's overall health. Before the 2011 season, in which Harrison missed four games due to a broken orbital bone, he'd only sat out one game due to injury, which was at the end of the 2008 season.

Harrison has undergone a number of back surgeries during previous offseasons, and it is somewhat of a relief that the reason he's been sidelined this summer isn't related to his back. However, after missing all of training camp and then undergoing surgery, it seems a bit optimistic to think Harrison will be ready to play come Week 1. 

If Harrison wanted to be sure he could play at the start of the season, then he should have had the arthroscopic procedure earlier. Though Pittsburgh's defense proved strong even when it was without his services last season, one would figure he'd do what it takes, as early as possible, in order to hit the practice field and be fully prepared for the first game of the year.

Update: According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who spoke with Harrison's agent Parise, Harrison underwent knee surgery on Wednesday morning. More details are pending.