Ready to share the load

With Troy Polamalu out this week after re-injuring his calf against the Eagles, safeties Will Allen and Ryan Mundy will be called upon to fill the void.

Mundy has previously gotten the lion's share of playing time when Polamalu missed the Jets and Raiders games, and still will see a lot of time this week, but Allen is expected to see more playing time than he has in the past.

"I just prepare every week like I am a starter," said Allen. "You never know who is going to get hurt or what is going to happen. It's the same preparation, just a little more attention to detail especially since it's on a short week. Just getting ready to go, ready to play."

Allen and Mundy both have significant roles on special teams as well, and that is why it is important to make sure both are fresh on defense.

"I don't know if there are a lot of starters that do full-time special teams," said Allen. "It's a tough job. You get fatigued. Playing special teams is all out every play. Then you have to give your best on defense. We will see what happens and leave it up to the coaches to figure out the rotation or whatever it's going to be."

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau agrees that both players will be needed on Thursday night and has no hesitation using either one of them in Polamalu's spot.

"I've always looked at those two safeties, Will and Ryan Mundy, as the same person, two veteran safeties that can go in there and play either safety," said LeBeau. "Really, a large degree of our success in recent years has come from those two guys having the depth and providing quality depth for us. Ryan Clark has missed some games, Troy has missed some games, and those two guys have stepped in there and I look at them both as the same player. We'll readily use both. We will need them both."

Weslye Saunders was back at practice on Tuesday after serving an NFL issued four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.

Before hitting the field for practice Saunders said he would like to play against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.

"Coach (Tomlin) hasn't said anything about it," said Saunders. "As far as I know I am playing. I have prepared mentally and physically to play on Thursday. That is what I am expecting to do."

In order for Saunders to play the Steelers would have to make a roster move before the game, but they do have until Friday at 4 p.m. before making any decision on his status. The options are to activate him and make the move or to release him, something Saunders said he doesn't see happening when asked if he thought he could be cut.

"I highly doubt it," said Saunders. "I highly doubt that."

But he did say he didn't know what his status would be for this game.

"They haven't said a word so I have no clue what is going on right now," said Saunders.

Linebacker James Harrison was back in the lineup on Sunday against the Eagles and said that his knee held up well.

"It did all right," said Harrison. "A little better than what I expected but it's still a work in progress. It's better than it has been."

That is good news to his teammates, who are happy to have him back on the field, including his menacing demeanor.

"It's just his presence," said cornerback Ike Taylor. "He's a former defensive MVP. Having a guy like James, aka Silverback, aka Debo, aka I'm Scared of Him, having his presence means a lot."

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