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Notebook: Polamalu expects more from himself

Troy Polamalu has been his own harshest critic lately, but the strong safety will get a chance to redeem himself Monday night in Cincinnati.

Polamalu heaped blame on himself after the Steelers' 20-10 loss at New Orleans last Sunday. He took it a step further during the week, saying he has not been playing at the level expected of one of the elite safeties in football.

"I think there are times in games where there were a lot of opportunities to make plays, and I didn't make them," said Polamalu, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions with two and is fifth in tackles with 38. "It doesn't have anything to do with anything physical with me, and maybe I'm second-guessing myself a little too much. But, other than that, we're 5-2."

Free safety Ryan Clark isn't buying it. Not that he doubts Polamalu's sincerity, but Clark said the five-time Pro Bowler is "too hard on himself, as most competitors are."

"He's going to want to make every play and, for us to be a good defense, we need him to make a lot of plays," Clark said. "He can cover anybody in this league. He can tackle anybody in this league. Some days, you're not going to be at your best, and I think that was just the case for him (against the Saints). He feels like he let us down, but we have tremendous faith in Troy."

Bringing the 'Wood?

LaMarr Woodley has just 1.5 sacks in the Steelers' past four games -- all of that output came against Cleveland on Oct. 17 -- so the outside linebacker may be due to wreak some havoc in the coming weeks.

Since becoming a starter in 2008, Woodley has 33 sacks in 42 games, including the postseason. But the 6-foot-2, 265-pounder has been streaky: Woodley has twice endured stretches of four straight games without a sack.

But when he gets hot, opposing quarterbacks know to look out. Woodley had at least half a sack in the Steelers' final eight games last season and had two in four of those contests.

Could another flurry of sacks be in the forecast with Woodley having had two weeks to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered Oct. 24 in Miami?

"I'm close, man," he said of getting to opposing quarterbacks. "It's a long season, so there's a lot (of it) to go."

> Extra points

Defensive end Brett Keisel practiced again Saturday and will start tomorrow night after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. ... Right tackle Flozell Adams, who sprained his ankle last week against the Saints, also will start after practicing all week. ... Daniel Sepulveda is fifth in the NFL with a net punting average of 40.5 yards. ... The Steelers are third in the NFL in kickoff returns with an average of 28.4 yards.

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