Harris expects to play Sunday; Steelers say foot injury is unrelated to preseason sprain

Steelers star and second year running back Najee Harris was forced out of Sunday’s Week 1 win over Cincinnati with a foot injury, however according to head coach Mike Tomlin it is not related to his preseason sprain as previously reported. Early tests on the foot came back negative, and the expectation is that he will play in Pittsburgh’s home opener this week.

Harris looked good in his limited opportunities on Sunday, getting 10 carries for 23 yards while catching two passes for three yards and a TD. When he left the game in the fourth quarter, fans and fantasy owners alike grew concerned that this could be the result of his preseason Lisfranc sprain.

Lisfranc injuries are notoriously difficult to manage, especially for running backs. A Lisfranc injury occurs when there is damage to the Lisfranc midfoot joint complex. The complex itself is made up of ligaments that connect the metatarsal bones to the tarsal bones and hold them in place. It is instrumental in maintaining stability and transferring energy from the midfoot to the calf muscles when walking, jumping, or running.

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In Harris’ case, he sprained one of those ligaments in his left foot on the first day of training camp after getting stepped on. He progressed well through the rehab process and Tomlin indicated the training and medical staff believed the injury wouldn’t “be a major deal.” However, Lisfranc injuries become very problematic when there are fractures or ruptures present because those often require surgery and come with a lengthy absence. For reference, Travis Etienne of the Jaguars suffered a Lisfranc injury in the 2021 preseason and missed the entirety of the regular season.

Fast forward now to Sunday’s game against Cincy, and you can see why there is such a high level of concern for Harris. If he indeed did aggravate the Lisfranc injury – as early reports stated – then he is likely to miss some time, or be severely limited. If the injury was isolated and he was removed from the game out of caution, then things could be trending in a more positive direction.

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Harris went on the record today, voicing his support for the latter. “The plan is I should be ready to play. I should be back practicing. Today’s our off day, so it’s good that we got today off just to let it heal for another day and just be ready to go this weekend,” Harris said. “I’ll be back at practice this week. And then I will be playing this weekend.”

Our algorithm is much less optimistic, calculating Harris’ Injury Risk to be High (24%), while his Health Performance Factor is Below Average (45%). We’ve given him an Optimal Recovery Time of 14 days retroactive to Sunday, so if he does suit up in Week 2 expect limited production.

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