Steelers’ RB Najee Harris exited Monday’s win over Indianapolis with an abdominal injury, and will be questionable for Week 13 against Atlanta.

Midway through the second quarter, Harris walked off the field in visible discomfort. He spoke briefly with medical staff, missing a few plays, before jogging back onto the field. After a few plays back with the offense he took a handful up the middle where he was met by a swarm of Colts defenders. Harris was brought down hard and needed help getting up. Immediately, he jogged to the sideline and was taken to the locker room.

The initial concern is that he suffered a sports hernia (athletic pubalgia). These are soft tissue injuries that occur in the groin and can lead to inguinal hernias, which is when abdominal tissue is propelled through an opening in the lower abdominal wall. When this happens, a painful, visible bulge in the lower abdomen.


The good news is that most sports hernias don’t actually involve inguinal hernias. Instead, sports hernias typically involve stretching or tearing to the tendons that attach the thigh muscles to the pubic bone (adductors). There can also be damage to the tendons that attach the oblique muscles to the pubic bone, which is why sports hernias can be classified as both groin and abdomen injuries.

Unfortunately, sports hernia can require surgical treatment. The surgery repairs and reattaches any damaged soft tissue, torn ligaments, and/or torn tendons. Recovery often takes six to 12 weeks, meaning if Harris requires surgery his season is over.

Harris underwent additional testing today, and the team is still awaiting results which will determine the next steps. If Harris does have a sports hernia and doesn’t require surgery, or isn’t dealing with a sports hernia (instead a muscle strain) then he should miss a few weeks and return at the end of the season.