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Steelers notebook: Polamalu not concerned with being old man among safeties

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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu practices Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Latrobe.

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By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 4:09 p.m.

Troy Polamalu is adjusting to a new safety partner in Mike Mitchell and a different role. Now, he's the much older of the two safeties, something he wasn't with Chris Hope or Ryan Clark.

Polamalu is 33 and Mitchell 27.

“It just takes time (to get comfortable),” Polamalu said.

However, he said having a different safety partner for the first time in nine years appears to be a bigger story in Pittsburgh than it would be elsewhere.

“We're just two of 11 (players on defense),” he said. “On most other teams, it's not important who the opposite safety is. I just think those positions are plug and play.”

• Coach Mike Tomlin gave second-year safety Shamarko Thomas an unusual compliment: “Beyond the splash (plays), he's doing the routine things routinely. That's what you're looking for in a guy at his position, to mature and grow.”

• Offensive lineman Guy Whimper has played in the NFL since 2006, but assistant coach Mike Munchak told him he's competing with former starter Mike Adams for the swing tackle's job. While both could make the regular season roster, Whimper said he assumes nothing. “It doesn't matter if you're young, old, starting or not, it's important to put good tape out there,” said Whimper, who estimates he's played about half the offensive snaps in the preseason.

• Out for the Eagles exhibition game Thursday are TE Eric Waters (concussion), CB Shaquille Richardson (knee), OL Cody Wallace (finger), LS Greg Warren (knee) and LB Jordan Zumwalt (groin). S Will Allen, CB Devin Smith, FB Will Johnson and RB Tauren Poole are uncertain with hamstring injuries.

• The Steelers' short week — only two practice days in advance of the Thursday night game at Philadelphia — replicates that of their opening week of the season, when they play Cleveland on Sept. 7 and Baltimore on Sept. 11. “We don't have control over things such as schedule and game location, what we do have control over is overall readiness,” Tomlin said. “A unique week like this is an opportunity to reinforce that.”

• Fourth-round draft pick Martavis Bryant's size is a contrast to the Steelers' sub-6-foot receivers — Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore. But Brown agrees with Ben Roethlisberger that Bryant must earn more work with the starters. “He's raw. … He's a rookie,” Brown said. “When he settles down in games, fine tunes his game and takes practice into the game, I think he's going to help us.”

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