Polamalu, Woodley could play
Strong safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley are game-time decisions when the Steelers face the Cincinnati Bengals in a key AFC North game on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Polamalu (head) and Woodley (hamstring) practiced Friday. They are listed as probable, along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey (illness), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (calf).
Polamalu declined to say whether or not he's still experiencing concussion-like symptoms. He and Woodley said they are cautiously optimistic they will play, but Polamalu said the final decision will be made by coach Mike Tomlin
"There is no way I'm going to play if there was any hesitation (from team doctors) or if there are any symptoms of a concussion," Polamalu said. "There is probably no more serious injury anyone can have than a concussion.
"You can function well with arms, legs and shoulder injuries. However, there is a lot of attention brought to (concussions) than in the past."
Polamalu left this past Sunday's game with a head injury after a violent collision with 6-foot-8, 290-pound offensive tackle Steve Maneri with 11:19 left in the first quarter of the Steelers' 13-9 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
He returned to practice Thursday and insisted he will not alter his style of play despite suffering his second head injury in six games -- including experiencing concussion-like symptoms Oct. 16 when he tackled Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew.
Polamalu acknowledged that his style of play -- sometimes launching his 5-10, 207-pound frame like a torpedo -- is risky.
"I don't think it's possible to change a style of play," Polamalu said. "Of course, we're professional athletes, but it's so tough to change. I think that's the case for anybody in the NFL, especially regarding the fines and rules we have in the NFL."
Polamalu has been fined twice this season, however neither involved helmet-to-helmet contact: He was fined for a late hit in the season opener at Baltimore and for using a cell phone after his head injury against Jacksonville.
Polamalu admitted there are some fears of another head blow.
"Either you let down your team or not," Polamalu said. "I can't be a coward or succumb to my own fears. As an individual, I don't want to get injured, but I don't want to give them a first down. That's the kind of mental battle we face as athletes.
"It's a fear that anyone in these conditions face. Overcoming certain fears of being a coward or letting your team down by turning down a hit -- that's the beautiful thing about this sport is that these fears are right in your face.
"I have fears," he added. "No question about it."
Polamalu also said that his battle with head injuries this season again has focused attention on the severity of concussions and other head trauma.
"I realize the amount (of head injuries) I've had that I'll be under a lot of scrutiny," he said. "I'm aware we are under a lot more scrutiny than other organizations."
When asked if he had any concussion-like symptoms yesterday, Polamalu quipped, "If you were a qualified doctor I would answer that."
Woodley, however, said pointedly that he's far more concerned with Polamalu's head injury than his sore hamstring.
"You're dealing with the brain and head, and if you're not ready to go, and get another (concussion), that outcome can really be life-threatening," Woodley said. "Troy's situation is totally different than my hamstring."
Also listed on the injury report are wide receiver Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring),who will not play. Linebacker Larry Foote was limited in practice and is questionable.