Harrison, Polamalu miss practice again
Steelers defensive stars James Harrison and Troy Polamalu have yet to practice this week, increasing the possibly that neither former NFL Defensive Player of the Year will play Sunday against the Jets at Heinz Field.
Coach Mike Tomlin generally requires a player to practice at least once if he is to play.
Harrison (knee) hasn't had a full practice since Labor Day; Polamalu injured a calf Sunday night in Denver and sat out practices Wednesday and Thursday. Harrison refused to discuss his status, and Polamalu deferred questions about his health to Tomlin, who didn't talk to reporters Thursday.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said the defense is prepared if neither can play.
“We've played without him (Harrison) and Troy,” LeBeau said. “Our guys will have to step up and fill the vacancy (if neither can play).”
Ryan Mundy would replace Polamalu.
“We've been through these types of injuries with him,” LeBeau said. “Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn't. We have to prepare for whatever eventuality. I don't think it's a real serious thing. I think it will be a short-time injury. I suppose anyone that is not practicing, you have to get ready for them not to play.”
Either Chris Carter, who started in Denver, or Jason Worilds would replace Harrison, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in August. He sat out training camp with the injury, which has bothered him since last spring.
Harrison went through practice Sept. 10 but apparently experienced a knee flare-up and did little in practice the rest of the week.
Before Harrison sat out five games last season — one because of a suspension. He had missed only one game in four seasons. The Steelers haven't played a regular-season game without both Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker, and Polamalu, a seven-time selection and an All-Pro safety last season, since Harrison came into the league in 2004.
• Running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee) practiced but said it hasn't been determined when he will resume playing. Running back Jonathan Dwyer (foot) went full go after sitting out Wednesday. Left tackle Max Starks was held out Thursday after experiencing an allergic reaction to medication but said it won't affect his status for Sunday.
• Ben Roethlisberger is in Mark Sanchez's corner. It's obvious Roethlisberger wouldn't be comfortable — at all — with the time-share quarterback plan of the Jets, who bring Sanchez off the field so Tim Tebow can run the wildcat. “It's got to be tough. I feel bad for (Sanchez). Obviously they blew out Buffalo, so it wasn't as big of a deal, but I know it wasn't easy,” Roethlisberger said. “During the game last week, Tebow came in and lost two yards and then Sanchez came back in and the commentator said, “Hey, Tim, thanks for losing me two yards.'”
• Rookie running back Chris Rainey showed off his speed and playmaking ability during the preseason, but he was almost invisible in the opener. Antonio Brown replaced him on punt returns, and Rainey was rarely used offensively, carrying twice for 5 yards. “We got into a lot of no-huddle that he wasn't particularly a part of last week,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “It doesn't mean he won't be this week. It will be a little ebb and flow with him early on.”
• James Kuzak, a Clairton police officer who was shot while investigating a home invasion last year, will take part in the Terrible Towel twirl Sunday at Roethlisberger's invitation. Roethlisberger, whose charity often donates police dogs to departments, invited Kuzak during a joint radio appearance Thursday.
• Linebacker Lawrence Timmons was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, yet he still hasn't had the huge season statistically that was expected of the 2007 first-round draft pick. But LeBeau thinks it's time Timmons gets more recognition. Timmons had five tackles and a quarterback pressure in Denver. “I think he's played at an All-Pro level the last two seasons,” LeBeau said. “I want him to continue to play like that and go and to increase his productivity, but I think he's been a very productive player, as productive as anyone.”
• LeBeau praised inside linebacker Larry Foote's first game as a playcaller, a role previously held by the now-retired James Farrior. “He got a turnover; he got a sack; he had 12 tackles; what more do you want a guy to do?” LeBeau said.
• Harrison wouldn't talk about the injury that kept him out of the preseason and Week 1, but he was willing to discuss his $100,000 contribution to alma mater Kent State. “(I wanted to) give something back, bring some attention to the school, hopefully get a better recruiting class than we're used to,” Harrison said.