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Steelers notebook: Polamalu says believing not the same as doing

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bengals running back Giovani Bernard celebrates after scoring with tight end Tyler Eifert next to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 8:42 p.m.

Troy Polamalu gave a candid answer when asked how many problems the Steelers have: “A lot.”

He also wouldn't sidestep the question of whether the Steelers can get out of their 0-2 hole, saying, “Time will tell.

“Of course I believe in this team, the guys that wear this uniform,” Polamalu said. “But believing it and going out and doing it may be two different things.”

Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin are experiencing their first 0-2 start with Pittsburgh. This is the first time the Steelers have been two games below .500 since Tomlin took over in 2007.

• Ryan Clark is equally realistic about the Steelers' play so far, saying, “If we don't play better, we won't win a game. It's not mystical, not about want-to or focus; it's about executing between the lines, playing your techniques, being good football players, doing what the coaches have taught us to do. We're not doing that right now. Sometimes even when we're doing it, the other team's doing it better.”

Ben Roethlisberger loves to throw the deep pass, but he's not doing it well, going 2 of 13 (18.6 percent) for 53 yards on passes of 20 yards or longer. He is the 29th-ranked NFL quarterback by Pro Football Focus, one spot ahead of Jets rookie Geno Smith.

• The Steelers are throwing the ball on an unusually high 71.3 percent of their plays. Only four other teams (the Browns, Giants, Falcons and Redskins) are throwing at a higher rate. Of the five teams, only the Falcons (1-1) have won a game.

• Tight end Heath Miller will practice fully this week for the first time since tearing two knee ligaments last December. But coach Mike Tomlin isn't certain if he can play Sunday night against the Bears. “We're not expecting Heath to step out of a phone booth with a cape on,” Tomlin said.

• Tomlin declined to criticize referee Mike Carey's crew for the apparently incorrect tripping penalty on right tackle Marcus Gilbert that negated a 33-yard Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown completion in the third quarter. “It wasn't a trip, but the reality of it is those guys are going to miss calls or make incorrect calls,” Tomlin said. “We've got to be good enough to overcome it.”

• Asked what he plans to change now that he's off to his first 0-2 start as a head coach, Tomlin said, “Nothing.”

• Tomlin didn't offer an injury update on cornerback Cortez Allen, who sat out Monday with an ankle injury. But Tomlin is optimistic Allen can play Sunday.

Kion Wilson and sixth-round draft pick Vince Williams split time at inside linebacker in place of the injured Larry Foote, and Tomlin said, “I like where they are. And I like where they are going.”

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