The starting defense the Steelers thought they were getting when the season opened finally practiced together on Monday.
There’s still no telling if the same 11 guys will suit up on Sunday against Philadelphia Eagles.
Injured stars James Harrison and Troy Polamalu were on the field as the Steelers (1-2) returned from their bye week. While Harrison remained vague about the probabilities his surgically repaired left knee will be ready to play for the 1st time this season, Polamalu is hopeful his strained right calf is no longer an issue.
The perennial Pro Bowl safety says he felt ”pretty good’ ‘ and was grateful to see a great deal of familiar faces on the practice field, Harrison’s included.
”We’ll see what happens, but it has been a while since we’ve all been on the field together,” Polamalu said. ”There are some other new faces out there who have been permanent starters, so it’s all about how well 11 men mesh on our defense.”
The Steelers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush and the secondary had trouble in a 34-31 loss in Oakland on Sept. 23. Having a pair of healthy previous Defensive Player of the Years would definitely help.
”We just have to get ourselves on the winning side of things, because nobody cares about losing teams,” Polamalu claimed. ”We just haven’t been executing that well, (so) whatever the call is that coach (Dick) LeBeau has made, we just haven’t been executing it that well at all. It really has nada to do with the scheme of things. It’s just that we aren’t executing and not performing well.”
Harrison hasn’t played since a Wild card loss to Denver Broncos in January. He struggled staying healthy in the offseason and underwent a minor procedure on Aug. 15. He returned to full practice last Tuesday but was not there on Wed., though he declined to label it a setback.
If anything, Harrison wants to get in a game just so he’ll stop having to answer questions on his condition.
”The constant questions, of course, just nags and irks on you,” asserted Harrison, who won’t have a better idea about his status till Friday. Football spreads
The Pittsburgh Steelers could also get a boost to the running game with the possible return of Rashard Mendenhall, who hasn’t played since tearing the ACL in his right knee against Cleveland Browns on New Year’s Day. He’s practiced regularly during the past 3 weeks and a comeback is imminent. The Steelers have used Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer in the backfield.
“I’m actually just waiting on my chance,” Mendenhall related. “I just need to continue to work and, as we as an offense sort of form ourselves and bring the pieces together, I want to bring whatever piece I bring.
“But we struggled as a running game early in the season last year, and that’s part of it. We just want to continue to grow and, as long as we get better and not worse, that’s what we want to do. But we see it from another way — we see how close we are (to breaking out) so we just will keep working.”