Another bad day

PITTSBURGH – Instead of circling the wagons, the 1-3 Steelers experienced a bad day at black rock as they began preparations for Sunday's visit from the 2-2 Kansas City Chiefs.

With James Harrison, Willie Reid and Brett Keisel already ruled out of Wednesday's practice with injuries suffered Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers, Kendall Simmons was lost for the day after burning his foot while receiving treatment for a heel injury.

No explanation was given, but Simmons, the right guard, is listed as probable after missing Wednesday's practice.

During Wednesday's practice, both Joey Porter and Deshea Townsend pulled hamstrings and are questionable for Sunday's game. Porter's injury appeared to be significant.

"It could end up being a game-day decision for both of those players," said Coach Bill Cowher. "We'll be working on contingency plans in case they can't go. Other than that it was a good practice."

Excuse the sarcasm from a coach who hasn't had many good days this season.

Porter's loss would be the bigger blow to the team because Harrison, his backup, has already been ruled out with a high ankle sprain. Cowher said the other Harrison, Arnold Harrison, is next in line to play Porter's blind-side rush position.

"Why not? That's what I say, man" said Harrison. "If it's for me to start this week, I'm going to go out there and be the best Arnold Harrison I can be to help the Steelers win."

A first-year player who's had three tackles on special teams, Harrison finds it ironic that his first live action from scrimmage would come against Kendrell Bell's team. The former Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie of the Year was a prep star in Harrison's hometown of Augusta, Ga. Harrison followed Bell's path to the University of Georgia and then to the Steelers. He even wears Bell's old No. 97.

"But we're two different people," Harrison said. "I met him at a basketball camp when we were in school. My high school's probably a rock's throw away from his. I've known him a good bit of my life. He was well known for being a really good athlete. His team wasn't that great, and sometimes you get lost in the shadows when your team doesn't win a lot of games, but he always was a physical specimen."

Harrison entered Georgia in 2000, just in time for Bell's last season at the school. Bell was drafted by the Steelers in 2001 when he had his one Pro Bowl season among his four with the team. He signed with the Chiefs as a free agent before the 2005 season and is their right outside linebacker (1 sack, 14 tackles). Harrison would play the same position Sunday if Porter can't play.

"I thank the Lord every day because I have the greatest job in the world: I'm a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers," Harrison said. "A lot of people wish they were in my shoes, so I keep my feet on the ground and don't let my head get into the clouds. I just try to stay level."

Townsend's replacement at right cornerback would be second-year man Bryant McFadden. A second-round pick last year, McFadden has been viewed as Townsend's eventual replacement, so perhaps the future begins Sunday.

"If that's the case," McFadden said, "I have to go out there and be productive and try to keep it going the way Deshea had it going there, and be accountable, not allow anything to slack off.

"It's kind of funny because my first time being active was because of an injury. That's a tough way for it to come about, but when you're playing 16 games it's a long season. That's what the coaches were telling me last year when I was inactive. You never know, but you have to stay ready."

McFadden started one game last year when the Steelers opened up in their dime package against Cincinnati. In 12 regular-season games he had 16 tackles, one sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and nine passes defensed. In the playoffs he had five tackles and three passes defensed. One of those was the potential game-tying touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne in the final minute of the Steelers' playoff win at Indianapolis.

This season McFadden had been alternating with Ricardo Colclough as the dime back and has seven tackles and two passes defensed. With Colclough on injured reserve, McFadden is the man, but he still hopes Townsend can play.

Townsend's injury appeared less serious than Porter's, but McFadden isn't so sure. "Joey said he'd never had an injury to his hamstring, so he might be a little more cautious," he said.

As for the other injuries, Reid, the new punt returner, is doubtful with a mid-foot sprain, and Keisel, the right defensive end, is questionable with a rib injury.

Keisel was taken by ambulance to a San Diego hospital Sunday night as a precaution against a possible kidney injury, but he was declared fit to travel and went home with the team. He believes he'll play Sunday, but Keisel said he couldn't talk about his late-night ordeal, per the team's wishes.

Steel City Insider Top Stories