After sitting out of consecutive practices with pain in his right knee, SLB Joey Porter was forced to undergo surgery to correct the problem.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery today in Birmingham, Alabama. The procedure was performed by the renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
At this point, it is unknown how long Porter will be sidelined, but most estimates have him returning in 2-4 weeks. Assuming, he takes the full four weeks to recover (and I think any temptation to rush him back should be avoided at all costs) he will be ready to go in time for the season opener on September 9. Of course, this means that he will most likely be held out of the entire preseason. According to Dom Capers, Porter was still experiencing an adjustment phase to the new defense, so missing the rest of the offseason will surely set him back in his progress. He might face some rough patches early on as he continues to learn his role in this defense. Even so, it's better that he get this problem taken care of now when there are no games that count. It's infinitely more important that he be ready to go when the regular season opens up.
In the past two years, Porter has had three procedures (including this most recent one) on his knees. In 2005, Porter missed most of training camp and all of the preseason after undergoing a similar surgery on his left knee. He then went on to have one of his most productive seasons for the Steelers. In May 2006, he had another arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and went on to play in 14 games. The history shows that Porter can bounce back from similar procedures, but let's not forget that he is two years older than he was in 2005, and has since had multiple knee surgeries. His return may not be so seamless this time around.
Donnie Spragan will take Porter's spot in the starting lineup until Porter is recovered. The good news is that Spragan has a good amount of experience in this defense and he doesn't make many huge mistakes. The bad news is that Spragan's poor pass-rush ability and lack of big-play potential are what led to the team signing Porter in the first place. Spragan is a good spot-starter and backup, but if Porter's knee becomes a problem during the season and he's forced to miss time, the defense will lose a big part of its dynamism.