The Broncos are blessed with good health heading into Sunday's season opener. The Steelers -- not so much.
OLB James Harrison is listed as questionable and tweeted that he will be a game-time decision, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported he would not play, leaving Chris Carter to work in his place. RB Rashard Mendenhall has practiced fully all week, but is listed as doubtful.
Harrison's absence would rob the Steelers of a playmaker who has 45.5 sacks the last four years and averaged nearly a sack per game in 2011. Broncos coach John Fox insists that a change wouldn't make a difference.
"We're prepared for whoever they line up at outside 'backer to his side, and we'll go from there," Fox said.
The absence of Harrison clearly would make life easier for Denver's offensive tackles -- and also its running backs, who wouldn't have to worry about Harrison in blitz pickup. But the potential for the Steelers to play without Mendenhall doesn't make as much difference.
The Steelers faced Denver in January's wild-card showdown without Mendenhall, who was placed on injured reserve five days earlier, and still averaged 6.8 yards per carry, with Isaac Redman slicing the Broncos for 121 yards and a 7.1 yards-per-carry average.
"Mendenhall, he's not a game-changer like that in my eyes," said Broncos DT Kevin Vickerson. "All the tailbacks they have are solid, overall as a group. They're all big backs. We've just got to get them down and gang-tackle them."
Added DT Justin Bannan: "I kind of treat it like everybody's nameless, faceless objects to me. I want to come out and play my game, and that's what we should be focused on, how we come out and perform and what we want to do."
INJURY UPDATE:RG Chris Kuper was officially ruled out because of a fractured forearm. He has been the only Bronco to miss practice and is also the team's only player on its official injury report.