Polamalu healthy enough to practice
By John Harris
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
[url="http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_583890.html"]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 83890.html[/url]

Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu isn't targeting Saturday night's preseason game at Minnesota as his return date, although he wouldn't mind returning to the playing field as soon as possible.

"I want to play against Houston," Polamalu said Tuesday following his first practice after missing all of training camp with a pulled hamstring.

The Steelers open the regular season Sept. 7 against Houston at Heinz Field.

Polamalu wasn't a full participant at yesterday's practice at the team's South Side facility. He was on the field for a 7-on-7 drill and also for some 11-on-11 work. However, he didn't practice with the first-team defense.

Polamalu's limited practice schedule was by design, he said.

"I felt good," Polamalu said. "I didn't want to rush it. That wouldn't be smart."

When asked about his practice schedule and his desire to play against Minnesota, Polamalu said the decision is out of his hands.

"That's up to coach (Mike) Tomlin," Polamalu said.

The Steelers conclude the preseason Aug. 28 against Carolina at Heinz Field.

Tomlin said he was satisfied with how Polamalu looked on the practice field. But he cautioned against rushing Polamalu back in the lineup. Polamalu was injured working out on his own the week prior to camp. He took part in the conditioning test on the first day of camp, but spent the three weeks at St. Vincent College on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

"He ran around and looked pretty good. We're being cautious," Tomlin said yesterday. "We can't take steps backward."
Missing in action
A look at the number of games Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has missed in the past two seasons:
Opponent Date Injury
Seattle Oct. 7 Rib
Miami Nov. 26 Knee
Cincinnati Dec. 2 Knee
New England Dec. 9 Knee
Baltimore Dec. 30 Precaution (knee)
Opponent Date Injury
Tampa Bay Dec. 3 Knee
Cleveland Dec. 7 Knee
Carolina Dec. 17 Knee
Tomlin said he didn't know if Polamalu would play against the Vikings.

"There's a chance," Tomlin said. "More than anything, it's how he feels (this) morning."

Polamalu ran fluidly and accelerated to the ball yesterday. He moved easily from side to side and backpedaled with no apparent difficulty.

Following his second appearance on the practice field, Polamalu left for good. Standing away from his teammates, he had the bandage on his left leg checked by head trainer John Norwig.

Polamalu missed five games in 2007 with knee and rib injuries. He also left another game early because of abdominal injury. In 2006, he missed the first three games of his career with a knee injury and sat out part of another contest with a concussion.

Polamalu has suffered at least six concussions in his football career.

Tomlin was coy with reporters about Polamalu's playing status upon leaving his interview, referring to injured Minnesota quarterback Tavaris Jackson.

"If you guys can find out whether or not Tavaris Jackson's playing, I'll let you know about Troy," Tomlin said.

John Harris can be reached at [email="jharris@tribweb.com"]jharris@tribweb.com[/email] or 412-481-5432.