Healthy Polamalu would be nice change
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
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Thursday June 10, 2010 11:26 PM
PITTSBURGH — A man of few words, Troy Polamalu spoke volumes when asked what it will take for the Steelers’ defense to dominate again.
The star strong safety needed just three words to express his thoughts. But with those three words, he said a mouthful.
“Health, for one,” he said.
Polamalu, who made a rare appearance in Pittsburgh the past three days for the final set of organized team activity workouts, was talking defense in general. But he could have been talking about himself specifically.
The feeling within the organization is that the Steelers need Polamalu to remain injury free for them to regain their ferocity and stinginess on defense.
But as the Steelers concluded OTAs, there’s still some doubt Polamalu is fully recovered from two separate knee injuries that forced him to miss 11 games last year.
Defensive end Aaron Smith also missed 11 games (torn rotator cuff). But it was Polamalu who was missed most, especially by his mates in the secondary who played poorly in several losses as the 9-7 Steelers failed to make the playoffs.
Polamalu didn’t wear a knee brace at practice Wednesday and Thursday, but basically worked out at half speed.
Polamalu, who rarely talks in depth about any injury, said his knee is OK. He basically said there was no need to run full throttle at this stage.
“There’s a fine line (between) how much football stuff you can get done at this time and also get healthy,” he said. “I didn’t play that much last year, and (getting healthy) is my No. 1 focus.”
In recent years, Polamalu has rarely attended the 14 OTA workouts, which are voluntary. With the blessing of either coach Bill Cowher or Tomlin, he’s preferred to train in southern California.
“There’s no question if I didn’t have (Tomlin’s) permission to leave that I would definitely be here (for all OTAs),” he said.
In other developments as the Steelers concluded OTAs:
l The Steelers still have one week to go in their off-season program.
“Guys will be conditioning and lifting and so forth,” Tomlin said. “There will be a lot of classroom work.”
l Tomlin refused to say if Byron Leftwich will be the No. 1 QB going into camp with Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four-to-six games of the season.
“I’m not going to name a No. 1,” Tomlin said. “I don’t need to.”
l Tomlin said he was impressed by the way No. 1 draft pick Maurkice Pouncey performed at OTAs. Pouncey is the team’s center of the future, but may be able to beat out Trai Essex for the starting right guard job.