By Teresa Varley
The Steelers will return to the practice fields at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on Tuesday and they could do so with an important player back in action.
Safety Troy Polamalu is expected to return to practice after missing all of training camp with an injured left hamstring.
"There are rumors going around," said Polamalu before the team's final practice at St. Vincent College. "We'll see."
Head coach Mike Tomlin indicated over the weekend that Tuesday was the target date for his return and it's a day that can't come soon enough for Polamalu.
"I had been going to meetings and watching practice like a coach," said Polamalu. "I am football player, I am not a coach and I am not a cheerleader."
Polamalu injured the hamstring the Tuesday before camp started while working out on his own. He took part in the conditioning test the first day, but was placed on the physically unable to perform list afterwards.
"I could feel when it happened initially," said Polamalu. "The conditioning test fatigued it. I couldn't practice. I trained but when I ran again they told me to shut it down. I did that for a week – did cardio and those things. No running.
"I tried to come back a little too fast. I didn't get any better. They said shut it down."
He began to run again this past weekend at camp and wasn't alone in his endeavors. As he did laps around an empty field during practice he invited a few kids to join him each day. It started with two, and then they would switch out and two more would join in. By the time he was finished there were about 50 kids doing laps with him.
"It felt good to run," he said.
And if he returns as planned and is feeling good, he hopes to play against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night in the team's third preseason game.
"I do (want to play) but I don't want to play in the sense if I can't be myself," said Polamalu. "The way I see things, as soon as they put me on the field, I'm like, 'Shut up, let me practice the new play, don't take me out of the game.' That's always every preseason football player's mind-set. It's like, 'Oh, man, preseason!' And once you get in the game, 'Don't take me out."