News on Polamalu's injury "encouraging"

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By BOB LABRIOLA
Steelers.com

At his regular weekly news conference, Coach Mike Tomlin characterized the availability of All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu for the upcoming game in Kansas City as "questionable at best," but it's also fair to characterize his overall assessment as optimistic.

At some point during the opening series against the Bengals last Sunday at Heinz Field, Polamalu sustained an injury to his left knee, the same knee he had injured in the first half of the opener against Tennessee. On that occasion, Polamalu sprained his MCL, and he was sidelined for four full games.

Polamalu had an MRI exam on the knee yesterday.

"We have had some favorable information on where Troy is from a health standpoint," said Tomlin about the results of that exam. "We're simply going to take it day-to-day with him. I spoke with him and visited with him (Monday), as he with did the doctors, and he's in a great frame of mind. He feels really good, but we're going to follow the expert advice we get from our medical staff in terms of how we proceed."

The cause for both Polamalu's frame of mind and the optimism from the team comes from the fact that this is not a re-injury.

"It's a PCL strain, as opposed to the last time when it was an MCL injury," said Tomlin. "This is a PCL injury that happens to be to the same knee, but there is no setback in regards to his MCL. We'll let that run its course and see how he feels, and of course, listen to the advice of the medical staff.

"Everyone's initial response was that it was a recurrence of the same injury that had happened in the early part of the year. That appears not to be the case. It's on the same knee, but it's not a re-injury."

This recent issue came at a time when it seemed that Polamalu was getting himself back in sync with the rest of the defense. Against Minnesota and at Denver – the second and third games after his return from the MCL injury, Polamalu had posted a combined 11 tackles, four passes defensed and had an interception.

In the first series against the Bengals, he tackled running back Cedric Benson for a 3-yard loss, and he also was right there when William Gay broke up a pass over the middle for Laveranues Coles.

Tomlin said the optimism is not related to any belief that a PCL injury is less damaging to a player's availability than an MCL injury, but it is solely about Polamalu's most recent injury being less severe.

"In the short term, we're going to take it day-to-day and see how he feels when he comes into the building on Wednesday," said Tomlin. "But it's really encouraging, more encouraging, really, than originally anticipated."

As usual, Polamalu will be replaced in the starting lineup by Tyrone Carter, who also has started at free safety this season in place of Ryan Clark.

"What Ty has done over the last several weeks speak to his versatility," said Tomlin. "He's a reliable safety for us. He plays both free safety and strong safety, and he plays other positions in our sub-packages. He's not a starter, but he's a starter-in-waiting. He's been called on quite a bit, and he's done really well for us. We anticipate more of the same with him, but this is not his first rodeo. Ty is a 10-year veteran, a valued member of our team and we expect him to play and play well."

OTHER INJURY NEWS: Keenan Lewis (rib) will be evaluated as the week progresses. Travis Kirschke (calf) and Carey Davis (hamstring) will participate in individual drills on Wednesday and see how they feel afterward.

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