View Full Version : Polamalu will pace himself in camp

08-01-2011, 01:00 AM
Polamalu will pace himself in camp as Achilles tendon continues to heal
Monday, August 01, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Troy Polamalu is less concerned about when he will sign a contract extension with the Steelers and more concerned how his rehabilitated Achilles tendon will hold up once the regular season begins.

Polamalu, the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2010, was on the field at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe Sunday for the first practice in pads at training camp -- a good sign for the Steelers' five-time Pro Bowl safety.

But that does not mean Polamalu is fully recovered from a partially torn Achilles that appeared to limit his effectiveness in the postseason and the Super Bowl. Polamalu did not need surgery to repair the injury, but the rehabilitation process took longer than expected because the tendon had to heal on its own.

"It went well," Polamalu said. "It's always advantageous [when you don't have surgery]. But it's a disadvantage that it takes time for nature to take its course."

Asked when he started to feel he was close to being 100 percent recovered, Polamalu said, "I don't think it's there yet, but it's pretty close to being there."

Probably not what anyone was hoping to hear from Polamalu, who was robbed of his trademark explosiveness in the postseason because of the injury.

After a regular season in which he led the team with seven interceptions and sparked the run to the postseason with his big strip-sack in Baltimore, Polamalu was not his usual disruptive and omni-present self in the playoffs. It seemed especially apparent in the Super Bowl when the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers tore through the Steelers secondary with ease, passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

Polamalu injured his Achilles when he dove for the end zone after an interception return for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 12. He missed two games, then returned for the season finale in Cleveland and had two more interceptions.

But he was never the same.

Polamalu spent the offseason in the care of an orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles who is friendly with the Steelers medical staff, allowing them to monitor his progress. He may not be 100 percent just yet, but he expects to be in time for the regular season.

Just to be sure, he said he will be cautious in training camp. "Definitely before the regular season," Polamalu said. "The big test is coming out here and doing football movements. It's hard to simulate movements by yourself."

The preseason, he said, "is a different speed. But the risk is still there for injury.

"It's like any other injury, really. There's always a chance to re-injure. But that's what constant rehab and constant maintenance is for."

And that's what the preseason is for, though, in this instance, Polamalu will tread carefully until the Sept. 11 game in Baltimore. There is no way any preseason game can simulate the speed of a regular-season game, especially one against the Ravens.

Asked if the injury took longer to heal than he expected, Polamalu said, "I never had one before so I didn't really know what to expect."

Polamalu's contract -- a four-year extension worth $30.19 million that he signed in July 2007 -- expires after this season. He and the Steelers would like to sign another long-term deal that would keep him with the team probably until he retires. But that will have to wait.

The Steelers' top priority is to get a long-term contract for outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who was designated the team's franchise player.

Before they do that, they will try to restructure the contracts of five players this week in an attempt to get under the salary cap of roughly $120 million by Thursday. If they do that, the Steelers believe they will not have to release any more players on their roster to save money.

Maybe then they can go to work on getting a new deal for Polamalu.

"This lockout, they have other things going on," Polamalu said. "I'm not too worried about it. They've been more than fair to me. It's been a good relationship."

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08-19-2011, 02:26 AM
Bires: Polamalu achieves his goal

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com


PITTSBURGH - The other day before the Steelers broke camp, Troy Polamalu made it perfectly clear what he wanted out of his first preseason game.

"Health," he said. "That's what everybody tries to get out of it. Just stay healthy. Fine-tune your tackling ... read your keys ... all those things ... but most important, health."

How encouraging it was Thursday night for Polamalu that he did get through the exhibition against the Eagles unscathed.

While that may not seem like that big of a deal, it is. Polamalu is to the Steelers' defense what Ben Roethlisberger is to the offense.

They are the Steelers' two most essential players and another Super Bowl appearance depends on them staying healthy.

Polamalu, the Steelers' all-star strong safety, didn't play last week in the preseason opener in Washington. He had been eased along through most of training camp. Right after reporting to St. Vincent College, he admitted he wasn't quite 100 percent. That Achilles' tendon he partially tore late last season still wasn't completely healed.

Before the 24-14 romp over the Eagles, Polamalu had to yet to go full out in a sprint. So he was eager to test his legs against what should be a potent Eagles offense this season despite its lack of production against the Steelers.

With the first-team defense playing the entire first half, Polamalu was on the field for all 19 of the Eagles' snaps. Defensive coordinator D!ck LeBeau hoped his first-stringers would get more that 19 reps. But that's the way the game unfolded.

The Steelers' offense was clicking, and the defense shut down Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.

Three Steeler defensive backs intercepted Vick on three consecutive Philly possessions in the second quarter. First it was free safety Ryan Clark. Then it was cornerback Keenan Lewis. Then it was Polamalu, who turned on his afterburners and returned the pick 36 yards.

"He's reckless," Clark said of Polamalu

Yes, when Polamalu is healthy, he is a reckless freelancer. The 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, there's no one like him when he's healthy.

It's only Aug. 19. There are still 25 days left before the season opener. But right now, Troy Polamalu is feeling pretty good about where he's at.

He came out of Thursday night's game with his health intact.

That's all he wanted.

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08-19-2011, 02:37 AM
AMEN!!!! :tt1

08-19-2011, 08:58 AM
Almost forget how good this guy is when he is healthy.

08-19-2011, 03:11 PM
Almost forget how good this guy is when he is healthy.

no kidding, he is definitely a difference-maker! :tt2

Business as usual for rejuvenated Polamalu

By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
Aug. 19, 2011


PITTSBURGH (AP)—The ball floated into Troy Polamalu’s hands, and the All-Pro safety’s instincts took over.

It didn’t matter that it was just a preseason game. It didn’t matter that the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was playing his first half of football since February. It didn’t matter that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin appeared less than thrilled with Polamalu’s decision to try and weave his way through a sea of Philadelphia Eagles in hopes of getting to the end zone.

It didn’t even matter that Polamalu’s trip to pay dirt was cut short by Vick, who chopped Polamalu down after a 36-yard return.

Sure Polamalu knows it probably isn’t wise to risk injury in August. Taking it easy just isn’t his style.

“When you’re in the middle of the game or in the middle of a play, you don’t differentiate whether you’re in the postseason or the preseason or the regular season,” Polamalu said. “I would probably have the same reaction in either of those situations.”

Even if Tomlin would prefer a little discretion from his star. Tomlin told Polamalu “I’m over it” when the perennial Pro Bowler trotted to the sideline following his pick. Still, the coach wasn’t complaining after Pittsburgh’s defense appeared rejuvenated with Polamalu’s familiar mane in the secondary and James Harrison’s scrunched up No. 92 jersey at outside linebacker.

The two foundations of the league’s best defense a year ago sat out the preseason opener against Washington last week to rest. It took little time for either to get back to full speed. Harrison shared a sack with Donovan Warren while Polamalu’s interception was the final play of an eventful half in which he flung himself all over the Heinz Field turf with his usual reckless abandon.

“Those guys are who they are,” Tomlin said. “They are both former defensive player of the year type dudes. So we come to expect that play from them. We weren’t surprised with what we got.”

Good thing, because the Steelers needed a pick-me-up after a sleepy performance the Redskins when the defensive starters gave up a pair of long drives. Philadelphia never got into gear. The first-team offense managed just 71 yards while playing the entire first half and only made it as far as the Pittsburgh 45. The beat-up Pittsburgh secondary that played without injured starters Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden held its own and intercepted Vick three times.

“It’s always positive to get turnovers,” Polamalu said. “We didn’t play too well the first preseason game. It was nice to have this kind of performance.”

It was also positive to see Polamalu quickly recapture the closing burst that’s made him one of the most electrifying defensive players in the league. He was slowed by a nagging Achilles injury late last year and looked ordinary at times in the postseason, getting beat for a couple of big plays in the loss to Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

He’s watched the tape but didn’t exactly spend hours and hours poring over the miscues.

When asked how the loss affected him, Polamalu smiled and said, “Yeah, I got down to 115 pounds.”

Not exactly. He spent the lockout in California and keeping his 5-foot-10, 207-pound frame in shape. Tomlin has limited Polamalu’s reps during training camp to keep him fresh, an arrangement that’s fine by Polamalu if he can play with the speed and abandon that’s become his trademark.

Polamalu is entering a contract year, and it’s obvious the Steelers want to sign him to an extension. He’s open to the idea but is more intent on focusing on getting to Indianapolis in February.

Sure, having a resume littered with Pro Bowls and awards means he’ll get a hefty payday wherever he plays in 2012. Still, he’s not looking ahead. He’s also not looking back.

He’s not big on talking about his accomplishments. Mention the spectacular season he put together last fall and he’s quick to throw out a reminder about what he really took away from 2010.

“To put things in perspective, I’m also the Super Bowl runner-up,” Polamalu said. “Let’s just stay on that subject.”

Actually, he’d rather not. He took a couple minutes to enjoy the win over the Eagles. By the time the media was in the locker room, Polamalu was already focusing on next week’s game against Atlanta, when the starters should get their most extensive work of the preseason.

He feels good enough to play well into the second half. It’s encouraging, but he knows the work done in August will be forgotten by December if he doesn’t take care of himself.

“Right now everybody’s as healthy as they’ll be all year,” he said. “The real test in football is late in the season, the weeks 12s, the week 10s, the playoff runs, hopefully. That’s the real test on health and speed.”

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