Troy Polamalu’s comeback turned out to be just a cameo, and there’s no telling when the Steelers safety will be back on the field.
One thing’s for certain, it won’t be on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) travel to reeling Tennessee Titans (1-4).
Coach Mike Tomlin ruled Polamalu out of the lineup this week after the All-Pro aggravated his strained right calf in the 1st quarter of a 16-14 win over Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Polamalu was in pass coverage when he pulled up at the end of the play and hobbled to the sideline. He spent the rest of the half sitting on the bench with his calf iced and watched the 2nd half in sweats.
Tomlin pointed at the quick turnaround between games and the nature of Polamalu’s injury as the reasons behind the decision. Polamalu missed 2 games last month after originally straining the calf in a loss to Denver in the season opener.
The coach is a bit more optimistic that linebacker LaMarr Woodley can play despite a strained right hamstring. Woodley sat out 6 games and missed parts of 2 others with a similar injury last year but Tomlin believes this time it is not quite as serious.
Still, with less than 100 hours to get ready, Woodley looks doubtful.
The news isn’t all bad, however, for Pittsburgh’s defense. Linebacker James Harrison did not miss a snap in his 1st game of the season and other than some minor swelling in his left knee on Monday morning, appeared fine. He actually looked just fine while recording 2 tackles and hurrying Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick 3 times.
There was nothing intangible, however, about the effect Harrison’s presence had on inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Freed up a bit by the attention the Philadelphia Eagles paid to Harrison, Timmons put together his finest performance of the season, recording a team-high 9 tackles, a forced fumble and 2 quarterback hits.
Timmons recognized the defense was playing with an ”edge” it didn’t have at times earlier in the season.
The Steelers need the fun to continue in Tennessee, though Pittsburgh has hardly been overwhelming on the road, dropping 4 of its last 5 dating back to last season. Football lines
The problem hasn’t been the offense, but the defense. The Steelers succumbed in the 2nd half in road losses to Denver and Oakland, allowing the Broncos and Raiders to score on a 7 of a likely 8 possessions.
Big plays have been an issue as well. The Broncos kickstarted a comeback in the opener thanks to a 71-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas and the Oakland Raiders dug themselves out of an early hole behind a 64-yard touchdown run from Darren McFadden.
”When you give up explosion plays, it decreases the probabilities of winning,” Tomlin expounded.
The Steelers have made a habit of playing to the contest away from Heinz Field. They struggled to beat woeful Cleveland, Kansas City and Indianapolis on the road last season and made the anemic Raiders look strong in a 34-31 loss 2 weeks back.