Polamalu limited for Steelers this week

| Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009

The Steelers will limit Troy Polamalu in practice this week because of a calf injury that almost sidelined the Steelers' All-Pro safety on Sunday.

Polamalu strained his calf while warming up before the Steelers' AFC divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers. He was not introduced before the game with the rest of the Steelers' defensive starters, and coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn't sure Polamalu would play until he trotted onto the field with the rest of the first-team defense after the opening kickoff.

Polamalu played the entire game, which the Steelers won, 35-24.

"All indications are that he's going to be fine to participate in this game," Tomlin said of Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. "He feels pretty good."

Tomlin said starting center Justin Hartwig also will be limited in practice this week. Tomlin said Hartwig "tweaked" his knee against the Chargers but played in the second half after getting fitted for a knee brace.

• Gary Russell has emerged as the Steelers' short-yardage back. That doesn't mean the Steelers will use the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder exclusively in goal-line situations. Tomlin said the Steelers will consider using starting running back Willie Parker when they get close to the end zone.

Parker has rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers' past two games, and he is as healthy as he has been since the beginning of September.

"What we've done in the past may not be an indication of what we do in the future," Tomlin said.

Russell has rushed for four touchdowns this season and had one against the Chargers last Sunday.

• Tomlin is taking the same approach with Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs as he did last week with San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He is preparing as if Suggs will play against the Steelers. Suggs, who had eight sacks during the regular season, sprained his shoulder in the Ravens' 13-10 win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. He did not play in the second half.

"I don't know him personally," Tomlin said of Suggs, "but I'd be shocked if he doesn't come running out of that tunnel in uniform Sunday, so we're expecting to see him."

• The Steelers' 35-24 win over the Chargers was the most watched TV show from Jan. 5-11, according to the NFL and Nielsen Media Research. The four NFL playoff games held last weekend ranked among the top five as far as shows watched from Jan. 5-11. The BCS Championship game between Oklahoma and Florida was third (26.8 million viewers) behind the Steelers game and the NFC divisional playoff game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles (31.4 million viewers).

The other two playoff games rounded out the top five.


8 — Turnovers the Ravens have forced in two playoff games.

34 — Takeaways the Ravens had during the regular season, which led the NFL.

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