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Tomlin OK with limiting Polamalu in preseason

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

Troy Polamalu wants to play in the preseason — at least it sounds that way.

Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake and safety partner Mike Mitchell, who said he wouldn't mind getting a couple of “live action kind of scenario” snaps with Polamalu wants him to play as well.

Mike Tomlin?

Well, that just may be another story.

Polamalu dressed, but was held out of the Steelers first preseason game against the Giants last week and although there has been no decision made — at least publicly — whether Polamalu will play at all in the preseason starting with Saturday's game against Buffalo, one thing is quite certain, if Polamalu does get on the field, it won't be for long.

“My opinion doesn't matter, and I'll keep it at that,” Polamalu said about wanting to play in the preseason. “If Coach Tomlin thinks I need to play, then he thinks I need to play.”

So far, Tomlin doesn't think Polamalu needs to put his body at risk. Polamalu didn't take part in any live contact drills during the three weeks the Steelers were away for training camp.

The Steelers would typically reserve one team period per practice for live tackling. Polamalu did not participate in any, and probably for good reason.

Polamalu was as healthy as he ever was last year when he played all 1,093 defensive snaps coming off a injury-plagued season that had him on the injury report 14 straight weeks and missing nine games.

After changing up his offseason training to include renowned physical therapist Alex Guerrero, who has worked with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Tom Brady, Polamalu was on the injury report only once last year.

“The longer you play in this league, you just want to get out of camp fresh and ready to go for the football season,” Polamalu said. “You also want to be at your peak regarding how you play. It is a balance that I don't think anybody has the perfect formula for. The most important thing during your later years is health.”

Sitting out the entire preseason is something that Polamalu has never done and rarely is done around the league.

“Well, you know … for a guy like Troy, I would say that he can come in and hop right into the regular season,” Lake said. “He is getting enough work out here. The games are just extra. Does he need it? Probably not. Preseason is one thing, but to have him in the starting lineup for Week 1 is crucial.”

That may be when Polamalu gets to line up with his safety partner for the first time. The Steelers signed Mitchell in the offseason to pair with Polamalu, but the two haven't had a lot of time to work out the kinks.

Polamalu skipped the voluntary spring practices, and Mitchell sat out of the first week of training camp with a groin injury.

“Whenever we get that opportunity we will make it work,” Mitchell said. “We get enough reps in practice that I am not sure it is going to be an issue.”

Another non-issue will be forcing Polamalu into an uncomfortable position like last year when he was forced into playing the dime linebacker position because of an injury to Larry Foote. Polamalu was routinely around the line of scrimmage taking on blocks of 300-pound linemen.

“We were asking a lot out of him,” Lake said.

Polamalu responded with a Pro Bowl season even though playing linebacker limited what he does best — simply being Troy.

“That transition is tough,” Polamalu said. “You can react so much faster when you are up around the line. When you get back, you have to be a little more patient. That was a tough adjustment.

“Now, just being able to move around, show different looks, is going to be good.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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