Ben Roethlisberger’s sprained left foot might be the least of the Steelers’ problems.
Coach Mike Tomlin expects his quarterback to play Sunday when the struggling defending AFC champions host the 3-1 Titans.
The same can’t be said for linebacker James Harrison, who needs surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone near his right eye and will be out “for a number of weeks,’’ Tomlin said.
Harrison sustained the injury in the third quarter of Pittsburgh’s 17-10 loss to Houston last week when the forepad in his helmet came down and struck him in the eye as he collided with a Texans player.
The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year returned to the game, but was ineffective at times as Houston drove the length of the field to score the winning touchdown.
The 33-year-old groused the Steelers (2-2) “stink’’ afterward but gave no indication of significant damage. Tomlin indicated he won’t know how long Harrison will be out until after the surgery.
“I told y’all it’s wasn’t a concussion!! Lol I’ll be ok in time,’’ Harrison tweeted yesterday shortly after the announcement.
The Steelers will slide Lawrence Timmons over from his inside linebacker spot to replace Harrison and start veteran reserve Larry Foote in Timmons’s place.
Not exactly the way the Steelers wanted to start a pivotal stretch. They have been manhandled in losses to Baltimore and Houston and were relatively unimpressive in wins over woeful Indianapolis and Seattle.
Tomlin stressed the need to return to fundamentals after his team allowed Houston’s Arian Foster to rush for 155 yards, the most the team has surrendered to a back in nearly eight years.
The Steelers are second in the league in yards allowed but are 22d against the run, giving up a whopping 4.8 yards per carry, well above the 3.0 yards per attempt they gave up last season.
“There’s a fine line between performing well and substandard,’’ Tomlin said.
“Some of the mistakes are mental, some of them are physical. They’re not centrally located in one person or position but when you add those things over the course of a football game you get 8-10 snaps where somebody is letting you down either mentally or physically and you have an opportunity to give up some big yards.’’
Foster’s season over Colts defensive tackle Eric Foster will miss the rest of the season after partially dislocating his right ankle. Coach Jim Caldwell said Foster had season-ending surgery yesterday, less than 24 hours after sustaining the gruesome injury in Monday night’s loss at Tampa Bay . . . The 49ers placed defensive tackle Will Tukuafu on the season-ending injured reserve list with a wrist injury. The Niners promoted rookie safety Colin Jones from the practice squad to fill Tukuafu’s spot . . . Redskins cornerback Phillip Buchanon was back on the field, having served his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Buchanon went through the light practice before the players took off for a five-day bye-week break. Buchanon declined to say which substance caused him to be suspended . . . The Seahawks placed linebacker Matt McCoy (knee) on injured reserve and signed linebacker David Vobora. The team also released fullback Eddie Williams and signed defensive end Jameson Konz off the practice squad . . . The home of the New Orleans Saints and site of six Super Bowls will be renamed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome under a deal announced yesterday. A price for the 10-year naming-rights deal was not disclosed . . . Former offensive tackle Orlando Brown died of diabetes complications, according to the Maryland medical examiner’s office. Brown, 40, was found dead in his Baltimore apartment Sept. 23. He died of diabetic ketoacidosis.