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Harrison, Polamalu likely out against Jets

| Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, 3:24 p.m.
Steelers strong saftey Troy Polamalu is blocked by the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas at Sports Authourity Field at Mile High in Denver on Sept. 9, 2012. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

Linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu missed practice Friday and are expected to sit out the home opener Sunday against the New York Jets at Heinz Field.

Harrison (left knee) and Polamalu (right calf) missed the entire week of practice and are listed as questionable to play. Both dodged questions Friday about their availability.

Polamalu said coach Mike Tomlin would decide whether he plays.

Harrison said he didn't have to practice Friday to play Sunday but added that it's a good idea. Tomlin generally sits a player who doesn't participate in Friday's practice.

Harrison acknowledged he likely will miss his second straight game.

“There's no need to try and hurry and rush yourself back and having to deal with an injury for the rest of the season instead of saying, ‘I'll sit out for a few weeks and get healthy,' ” Harrison said. “It's too early in the season to go out there and actually do more damage.”

Harrison missed five games last season after suffering a fractured orbital bone against Houston in Week 4. He missed another because of a suspension following an illegal hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy.

Polamalu, who played through a series of nagging bumps and bruises last season, hasn't missed a game since an Achilles injury sidelined him for back-to-back games against the Jets and Carolina in Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2010 season.

The Steelers face a difficult challenge with Harrison and Polamalu out. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, seemingly invigorated by the presence of Tim Tebow, had perhaps his best game in two years in a 48-28 thrashing of Buffalo last week.

“Our job is to play one game at a time,” Polamalu said, “but we definitely don't want to get an even worse injury that could jeopardize your entire season.”

Linebacker Chris Carter again is the likely replacement for Harrison, and Ryan Mundy probably will start for Polamalu. Mundy replaced Ryan Clark in last week's season opener in Denver and recorded two tackles.

“I would like to go after any quarterback, but I'll have to wait until I'm healthy,” Harrison said, responding to a need to pressure Sanchez and Tebow.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee) participated in practice but is doubtful, while running back Jonathan Dwyer (foot) is probable along with defensive end Ziggy Hood (back) and left tackle Max Starks (illness).

Stevenson Sylvester (knee) will sit out his second game.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rpaulk@tribweb.com or 412-320-7923.

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