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Polamalu to train alone again

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Troy Polamalu was greeted by shrieks and flashbulbs as the escalator descended to the first floor, a fitting scene for the first public appearance by the Steelers safety since the Super Bowl XLIII parade.

The reaction was not toward Polamalu's arrival at the Steelers' Organized Team Activities, but rather a Perry Ellis-sponsored autograph session Thursday evening at Macy's department store at Ross Park Mall.

Polamalu once again plans to take the voluntary option and skip the majority of the 14 practices this spring to train instead with Marv Marinovich in California, apparently in an understanding with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

"Yeah, God-willing," said Polamalu, who attended only the five mandatory minicamp practices last year. "I spoke to coach Tomlin about that. It's kind of what's best for keeping the individual healthy by allowing them to train in what's comfortable for them, so he's allowing me to do that. I'll be doing some (team workouts), God-willing, but that's kind of a conversation coach Tomlin and I want to keep between ourselves."

Polamalu, who has been named to five consecutive Pro Bowls, believes his off-season training regimen with Marinovich has been beneficial to his well-being. He missed eight starts and parts of several other games in 2006 and '07 with injuries ranging from knee to abdominal to ribs.

"The years I haven't trained with him, I've been injured quite a bit," Polamalu said. "I would like to think that (it prevents injuries), but we live on the grace of God, as well. It's important for every athlete to have that confidence going into every year. If you don't have that confidence as an athlete, it's tough to prepare for games."

It's hard to argue with Polamalu's philosophy, considering he is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. He started all 16 regular-season games and had career-highs with seven interceptions and 17 passes defended for the NFL's No. 1 defense.

Then again, EA Sports is expected to unveil today its Madden NFL 2010 video game with Polamalu on the cover, which once was believed to carry a curse after a streak of injuries and sub-par play by its cover boys.

"Let's just say I'm not allowed to comment on that," Polamalu said.

Polamalu, however, believes NFL players are only built to withstand so much punishment and, as a result, teams have a two-year window to make championship runs. He points to the Steelers' 15-1 record in 2004 and Super Bowl XL title in '05, which was followed by 8-8 and 10-6 seasons, as an example of the difficulty in sustaining excellence.

"It's always tough to continue that line of success for three years," Polamalu said. "I don't know if it's a stigma that teams just have to overcome or our bodies having to produce at that high of a rate for more than two years."

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