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Broken eye socket shelves Steelers' Harrison for multiple weeks

PITTSBURGH -- 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 Tennessee Titans (3-1).

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."

Harrison sustained the injury during the third quarter of the Steelers' 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans last week when the forepad in his helmet came down and struck him in the eye as he collided with an opposing player.

Harrison, 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.

The Steelers will slide Lawrence Timmons over from his inside linebacker spot to replace Harrison and start veteran reserve Larry Foote in Timmons' place.

Tomlin said veteran defensive end Brett Keisel is expected to play after missing the past two weeks with a knee injury. Yet Tomlin isn't hailing Keisel's presence as reason to believe the defense's problems against the run are over.

"We have capable men who play who need to do a better job," Tomlin said.

And do it better quickly.

The Steelers are second in the NFL in yards allowed but rank 22nd 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.

The battered offensive line could take a step toward normalcy if left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Doug Legursky return from injuries.

Backup Charlie Batch will get a package of plays just in case Roethlisberger suffers a setback, but he played the second half of last season with a fractured right foot and had no major issues.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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