PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals is sacked in the fourth quarter by James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 4, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 35-7. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Post Gazette is reporting Steelers LB James Harrison will not play in Pittsburgh's Week 1 opener at Denver.
His absence means second-year OLB Chris Carter will make his first professional start, opposite LaMarr Woodley, in front of the hostile Mile High crowd.
It's certainly a loss for the Steelers. They missed Harrison for much of the 2012 season, and their once suffocating run defense showed cracks at times throughout the year - both with and without Harrison.
Carter has been practicing with the first team for almost the entire preseason, as Harrison recovered from the injury that's holding him out of Week 1. The Steelers said if Harrison showed enough improvement he would play in Week 1, but he didn't practice Thursday and sat out of much of Wednesday's practice.
One advantage the Broncos could have is power-running to the offensive left side - or, right at Carter - to see how they will respond without Harrison. It's the kind of play that can set up play-action very well, another advantage the Broncos can use to help Peyton Manning complete throws down the field.
A tweet from Harrison posted at 1:03 p.m. ET, approximately one hour before the Post-Gazette report surfaced, indicated Harrison didn't practice, but he thought his participation would be "a game-time decision."
Didn't make practice today, looks like it will be a game time decision.— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) September 7, 2012
Players who miss Friday's practices don't typically play in Sunday games due to the lack of preparation and the team's need to move on with implementing the game plans.
It's certainly a situation the Steelers have been prepared for. Harrison's lack of work this preseason puts him at a conditioning disadvantage, among everything else.
His status for Week 2 will likely be a decision made late in the week as well.