Torn calf muscle keeps Polamalu on sidelines
Troy Polamalu won't play Sunday in Cincinnati. He probably won't play next week or the week after that, not with a torn calf muscle that has turned his right leg a hideous shade of purple and red.
But the reason he's hurting isn't just because of an injury that usually takes up to six weeks to heal. It's because the Steelers (2-3) need him badly after losing each of their first three road games, and he won't be out there Sunday night in Cincinnati to help a struggling defense.
“That's why they (NFL teams) pay the more talented players big money, to keep them on field,” Polamalu said Wednesday. “Obviously, you want your starters and your more experienced players out there.”
The best-case scenario for Polamalu's return, according to teammates, is the second half of the season. He wishes he could return last week.
“Sometimes I wonder if it's just us,” Polamalu said, referring to the Steelers' current abundance of injuries that includes their top two running backs and two starting offensive linemen. “It seems like we deal with it pretty seriously every year. I'm aware of Baltimore's situation (with Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis out), but it seems like we face those situations year in and year out.”
Polamalu included. The Bengals game will be the fourth he's missed this season and the 17th he's sat out over the last four seasons. It's frustrating to him, especially because he started every game at age 30 last season and made the All-Pro team.
Polamalu was hurt during the fourth quarter of the season-opening Denver game. He sat out two games and a bye week only to get hurt not long into the first quarter of the Eagles game Oct. 7.
A strained calf occurs when a muscle is forcibly strained beyond its limits, causing it to tear. Strains are graded at three levels, with the most severe requiring the most recovery time.
“Calf strains are in the muscle bellies, so they tend to heal on their own and take time,” said Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and the director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. “If you try to go back too soon, a sudden explosive (move) can stretch muscle fibers, and you start back at square one. Calf strains are a tough injury because everything you do in sports involves pushing off.”
Polamalu is certain he didn't come back too soon against the Eagles.
“I felt really good,” he said. “I felt as good as I have in a while.”
For now, Polamalu said, he is combating the nagging injury “with just the normal stuff — treatment, massage, stretching, strengthening, and all the different techniques.” But rest is most needed.
Geier said there isn't much that can be done to speed up the healing process.
A sprained left knee in 2009 and a strained right Achilles late in the 2010 may have indirectly contributed to his current injury.
“The body always compensates and it compensates from the ground up,” Polamalu said. “If the left toe hurts, it will compensate maybe to the right ankle or calf to the left knee to the right hip, all the way up your body. … That is basic sports physiology.”
This is basic Steelers-ology: They are a much, much better team when Polamalu plays.
And he is certain he will again, he just isn't sure when. He is not worried this injury might be season-ending or career-threatening.
“Not at all,” he said.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- Steelers notebook: Keisel dresses, but doesn’t play
- Starkey: Stupid Steelers
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Commitment by Steelers’ Gilbert pays off
- Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
- Run game not primary focal point for Steelers
- Rossi: Blount brings back Steelers’ swagger
- Steelers re-sign Keisel to bolster depth on defensive line