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Steelers notebook: Wallace, Adams among those placed on injured reserve

| Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 5:12 p.m.

The Steelers placed receiver Mike Wallace, offensive tackle Mike Adams and cornerback Curtis Brown on the season-ending injured reserve list Saturday, allowing them to add three players for their season-ending game Sunday against the Browns.

Receiver David Gilreath and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu were promoted from the practice squad, and defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo was claimed off waivers from the Seahawks. Fangupo spent the first 15 weeks on the Seattle practice squad before being promoted to the active roster last week.

The 6-foot, 324-pound Fangupo, an undrafted free agent from Brigham Young, was in the Texans' training camp but released at the start of the season and claimed by Seattle.

Just because the players were added to the 53-man roster doesn't mean they will be in uniform Sunday, when seven players must be deactivated.

Ta'amu, a fourth-round draft pick, has not played this season after being demoted from the 53-man roster to the practice squad. He still faces numerous criminal charges, including aggravated assault while driving intoxicated, for an Oct. 14 police chase in which his SUV struck several vehicles on the South Side.

If the Steelers choose to keep Fangupo and Ta'amu, the two might compete next season to be the backup nose tackle.

Wallace might have played his final game for the Steelers last week against the Bengals, when he made one catch for 13 yards and lost a yard on a reverse. He can become an unrestricted free agent in March.

New territory

Troy Polamalu almost can't remember what it's like to play a late-December game with zero meaning. The only previous time came in 2003.

Even in 2006, when a 2-6 start all but put them out of the playoffs, the Steelers finished strong by going 6-2 and eliminating the Bengals from playoff contention in their final game.

This time? Nothing.

“Our record speaks for itself. We're a 7-8 football team,” Polamalu said. “You could also say if we beat teams earlier in the season (we should have beaten), we're not in that position.”

Larry Foote prefers to be an 8-8 team to a 7-9 team, which requires beating the Browns on Sunday.

“It's just a nasty number, 7-9. By our standards 8-8 is nasty also, but if you want to hang something up on the wall and want to see records, you want 8-8 instead of 7-9,” Foote said.

The Steelers haven't been 7-9 since 1998, when they began a stretch of three consecutive nonplayoff seasons.

Good sign

Despite the late-season fade, safety Ryan Clark said one of the most encouraging developments was Polamalu returning to his playmaker's role last week against Cincinnati. After Polamalu came back from his two-month layoff with a severe calf injury, his mobility and speed were reduced for weeks.

“He was trying to rehab so hard that he made it sore again,” Clark said. “It was a battle. So to see him play the way he played last week, move the way he did, show his instincts and quickness again, it was uplifting for us all.”

Clark added, “The biggest part for me — and maybe I think too far ahead — is what it could look like with both of us healthy and these young guys playing football and Ike (Taylor) out there (in 2013). It could be special.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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