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Steelers defeat Packers 38-31

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 22, 2013 – 7:40 pm

Packers’ linebacker A.J. Hawk intercepted Ben Roethlisberger at the end of the third quarter, and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Matt Spaeth on the play gave the Packers the ball at the Steelers 23-yard line. After a holding penalty, Matt Flynn hit James Jones for a 20-yard reception. James Starks added a three-yard carry, and was held to just two yards on the follow up when hit by Stevenson Sylvester. On third-down Flynn couldn’t hit Jarrett Boykin, who was covered by Cortez Allen. Mason Crosby hit a 22-yard field goal, to pull within a score at 31-24.

The Packers forced a three-and-out, and then their offense came fighting back. Flynn took them on a six play, 58 yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by John Kuhn to tie the game at 31-31.

It was up to   Roethlisberger completed a 28-yard pass to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell added a four-yard carry. On third-and-six Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller, who came up a yard short with a five-yard reception. The Steelers went for it on fourth down, with Roethlisberger hitting Will Johnson for a six-yard gain. Two short runs by Bell and an incomplete pass would bring on Mat McBriar for the punt.

The defense once again came up huge on the next series when Troy Polamalu tackled Matt Flynn on a scramble, forcing a fumble and Brett Keisel at the Packers 17-yard line. Bell went for two yards, and after an incompletion Roethlisberger connected with Bell for five yards. Shaun Suisham came on for the field goal, but an offside penalty against the Packers gave the Steelers a first down at the five-yard line. Bell took it for four yards to the one-yard line. Bell took it up the middle for a one-yard touchdown and 38-31 lead with 1:25 to play.

The Packers came back with a 70-yard kickoff return to the 30-yard line. Matt Flynn hit Jordy Nelson for eight yards and Andrew Quarless over the middle for 19 yards. James Starks took it for four yards and a false start backed the Packers up five yards. On the final play of the game, Flynn’s pass was incomplete for the Steelers win.


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Steelers lead 30-7 at end of third

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 15, 2013 – 10:50 pm

Turnovers were the story early on in the second half, when Troy Polamalu forced a fumble and Ziggy Hood recovered. The Bengals got the ball right back when Adam Jones intercepted Ben Roethlisberger at the Bengals two-yard line.

The Steelers defense held strong, shutting down the Bengals and putting the ball back in Roethlisberger’s hands. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 20 yards and added a 13-yard pass to Heath Miller. Le’Veon Bell took it for six yards, and a taunting call gave the Steelers a first down at the Bengals’ 11-yard line. The drive stopped a the three-yard line, and Shaun Suisham hit a 26-yard field goal attempt for a 30-7 lead with 6:18 to play in the third quarter.


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Steelers trail Dolphins, 24-21, end of 3rd

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 8, 2013 – 3:16 pm

The Dolphins got the ball to start the second half and marched down the field on 9 plays, 80 yards in 4:10, culminating with a Daniel Thomas four-yard touchdown run to extend their lead to 17-7. Cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a rib injury during the series, but returned to the game.

Big plays played a big role on the next drive. Heath Miller gave the offense a needed shot in the arm with a 31-yard reception to the Dolphins 43-yard line. Antonio Brown then lit it up with a 43-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, closing the gap to 17-14.

Another big play paid dividends, but this time it was on defense. Troy Polamalu intercepted Ryan Tannehill and returned it 19-yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 21-17 lead.

The Dolphins came right back though, driving down the field for a four-yard touchdown reception by Brian Hartline for the 24-21 lead.

End of 3rd Quarter: Steelers 21, Dolphins 24


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Steelers lead Dolphins 7-3, end of 1st Q

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 8, 2013 – 1:34 pm

 

The Steelers went three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, but their defense returned the favor, shutting down the Dolphins on their opening drive. Troy Polamalu broke up a Ryan Tannehill pass that he came close to intercepting, and then Cam Heyward sacked Tannehill for an eight-yard loss.

The Steelers got the ball at their own 26-yard line, and in the snow kept things on the ground to get rolling. Le’Veon Bell rattled off runs of four, nine, six and three yards. On third-and-one Jonathan Dwyer pounded it up the middle for six yards to keep the chains moving. Ben Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for 22 yards to the 24-yard line, and Bell added a six-yard gain. Bell was knocked for a two-yard loss, but got the first down on a nine-yard reception. Bell was stopped for no gain, but added a five-yard carry to the six-yard carry. On third down Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sanders for a five-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers an early 7-0 lead, off a 12-play, 74-yard drive that ate up 7:05. On the play, Roethlisberger passed Terry Bradshaw with most touchdown passes in franchise history with 213.

Cortez Allen broke up a Tannehill pass intended deep for Mike Wallace. Lamar Miller added a seven-yard carry, and then Tannehill scrambled for eight yards, and then took off running for 48 yards to the Steelers 13-yard line. The defense held them, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a 30-yard Ryan Sturgis field goal.

End of first quarter: Steelers 7, Dolphins 3


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Steelers defeat Browns, 27-11

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 24, 2013 – 4:10 pm

 

The Steelers got the ball with 14:43 in the fourth quarter, and went on a 12 play drive, that while it only went 27 yards took 7:49 off the clock. On fourth-and-18 from the Browns’ 29-yard line the Steelers appeared to be going for it rather than kicking the field goal into the wind, but instead Ben Roethlisberger pooch punted it and Emmanuel Sanders downed it at the one-yard line.

Brandon Weeden got them out of trouble with a 47-yard completion to Josh Gordon. The defense came up big again with Troy Polamalu forcing another Weeden fumble, and Cam Heyward recovered.

The Steelers weren’t able to convert, but it was the defense that would come through again. Will Gay intercepted Weeden and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to extend the Steelers lead to 27-3.

The Browns added a touchdown late when Weeden hit Gordon for a one-yard touchdown. The Browns added the two-point conversion on a pass to Greg Best, cutting the Steelers lead to 27-11 with 3:13 to play.

The 27-11 win is the Steelers third in a row, and improves their record to 5-6 and keeps them in the hunt in the AFC North.


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Steelers lead Browns, 13-3, at halftime

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 24, 2013 – 2:12 pm


Second Quarter

After stopping the Steelers on their second drive the Browns went to work from their own 19-yard line. After two short completions, Jason Campbell hit Jordan Cameron, and converted another third down Chris Ogbonnaya for 11 yards. Ogbonnaya went off right guard for three yards before the first quarter ended. Campbell hit Fozzy Whittaker for a five yard gain, but on third down Cam Heyward sacked Campbell for a seven-yard loss, forcing a punt.

The Browns stopped the Steelers deep, forcing a Mat McBriar punt that went just 41 yards to the Browns 47-yard line.  Campbell went back to Cameron for 10 yards, then came right back to him for a four-yard completion. A false start backed the Browns up, and on third down Troy Polamalu broke up Campbell’s pass while Jason Worilds applied the pressure, ending the drive.

The Steelers took over at their own 10-yard line, and despite completions to Antonio Brown of 12, 9 and 17 yards the drive stalled.

Campbell connected with Josh Gordon for 10-yards, and Whittaker added a four-yard carry. On second-and six Campbell was hit by Worilds, forcing him to the sidelines and replaced at quarterback by Brandon Weeden. Weeden couldn’t connect with Cameron, forcing another Browns’ punt.

The Steelers went to work quickly, with Roethlisberger hitting Emmanuel Sanders for 11 yards to the Cleveland 41-yard line. Roethlisberger found Brown deep on the next play, connecting with his number one target for a 41-yard touchdown and 10-3 Steelers lead on a drive that took just 44 seconds.

Campbell returned at quarterback for the Browns on the next drive and got them rolling with a 16 and 10-yard completion to Gordon. The defense came up big when Troy Polamalu forced an Ogbonnaya fumble and recovered, giving the Steelers the ball back at their own 46-yard line.

Campbell returned at quarterback for the Browns on the next drive and got them rolling with 16 and 10-yard completions to Gordon. The defense came up big when Troy Polamalu forced an Ogbonnaya fumble and recovered, giving the Steelers the ball back at their own 46-yard line.

The Steelers went to work and Le’Veon Bell took it for 12 yards, then Roethlisberger hit Sanders for eight yards and Heath Miller for eight and 13 yards to the Browns’ 14-yard line. After spiking the ball and two incomplete passes, the Steelers brought on Shaun Suisham to extend the lead to 13-3 at the half.


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Steelers make a wish come true

Posted by Teresa Varley on September 20, 2013 – 3:24 pm

2013_MAW_0920_0051

Kendrek Tarver couldn’t stand still, so excited to be watching the Steelers practice on Friday afternoon and see his favorite player Troy Polamalu in person.

Tarver, who is from Baltimore, Maryland, attended practice and will be at Sunday night’s game against the Bears as a part of the Steelers commitment to Make-A-Wish. Tarver has Muscular Dystrophy, something he was born with but showed up when he was around five years old.

“This is good to make him happy, let him meet people he plays on Madden and watches on television,” said his mother Michelle Tarver. “It’s just exciting. It fills my heart that he is happy and got to do something he wanted to do.”

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From the sidelines

Posted by Teresa Varley on August 1, 2013 – 10:30 am

A look at what is happening at Steelers practice, and even a surprise in the sky.

2013 Steelers Training Camp 2013 Steelers Training Camp 2013 Steelers Training Camp 2013 Steelers Training Camp 2013 Steelers Training Camp 2013 Steelers Training Camp


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Inside the locker room: Troy Polamalu

Posted by Teresa Varley on December 6, 2012 – 3:00 pm


Where do you need to improve on defense?
We need to improve everywhere.

How did it feel being back out on the field?
It felt good. I felt good all game.

Were you on any type of snap count during the game?
I don’t know if I was on a count. I think it was a better game plan going into the last game than it was going into the Philadelphia game when I injured myself. I’m just very happy to come out with a victory.

In what way was it better?
That I was limited in a way, in terms of repetitions and the game plan, and as far as practice was concerned throughout the week.

If you were limited earlier in the season, do you feel that this re-injury may not have happened?
I don’t know. I don’t like to deal in hypotheticals.

Was it worse the second time than the first time?
No, it was just a different muscle.

Are there ways that Chargers QB Philip Rivers is still dangerous, even though he said he is having a disappointing season?
We definitely know what he’s capable of and I’m sure they’re very disappointed in their record as we are with our record. We definitely know what they’re capable of. We always play each other really well, no matter what the records are.

Since you were somewhat limited last game, were you playing more within the structure of the defense?
I just played. If [the big plays] come, they come.

How much will things change without CB Ike Taylor, and are you encouraged with what you saw from CB Cortez Allen last game?
The defensive backs and the coaches obviously know what they’re capable of, Curtis [Brown] and Cortez. It’s what we expected, the performance from them. To replace somebody like Ike, who I don’t think has ever missed a game here, is going to be tough. It’s going to be different for our defense.


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Polamalu’s island fun helps others

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 26, 2012 – 10:00 pm


In his soft-spoken manner, Troy Polamalu humbly tried to deflect attention away from himself and on to his teammates, on to others who do things in the community.  

“This isn’t just about what I do,” said Polamalu. “There are a lot of other players on this team proactive in helping the community. There are a lot of people doing a lot of good things. A lot of people come from a background of struggle and we appreciate things and realize how much better our lives could have been if we got a little extra bump, a little extra help and that is the opportunity a lot of us guys are trying to give.”

On this night, though, it was about Polamalu and what he is doing in the community as he hosted Polamalu’s Polynesian Luau at the Westin Convention Center. 

An unusually warm Pittsburgh evening set the stage for the island paradise inside where Steelers’ players and coaches, as well as guests in attendance, enjoyed a traditional island feast and Polynesian entertainment and dancing.

“I wanted people to be able to come in so we can be friends and form a relationship at an event like this,” said Polamalu. “I wanted to bridge the gap between fan and family. Our culture is all about that. We welcome people. We love everybody.”

While enjoying what the culture offers was the theme of the evening, giving back was the reason for the event.

The event benefited two causes that are near and dear to Polamalu’s heart, The Troy Polamalu Football Camp in his ancestral homeland of American Samoa and The Harry Panos Fund that honors family members who have valiantly served in the military.

Polamalu first hosted the football camp in American Samoa in 2011, bringing inspiration and raising the spirits of the young male population in a poverty stricken region.

“It amazes me in this day and how the world is working that a culture that has given so much to the game of football, and has received so much from the game of football, can be so affected by so very little work and money,” said Polamalu. “Our education system is really bad. The political system needs a lot of work. Football has such a tremendous impact on our culture, it’s awesome. It’s our foot in the door.”

The camp drew 660 participants from seven high schools to further advance their football knowledge and skill level, hoping to use it as a springboard for a future on the collegiate level where they can gain a valuable education and possibly turn the sport into a career one day.

For Polamalu, the camp was a start of something special. Now, he wants to do more.

“We want to help them with education, computer labs or a library and putting a football field down,” said Polamalu. “The opportunity to affect the infrastructure of a country is really amazing.

“I want to be able to have a lasting presence there and be able to continue to have an impact. That is why we are doing it every other year so it can spread over time. The message was conveyed to them that it won’t be me all of the time. It has to be the children who eventually take over, other players that step in and take over. We all support each other. I have been the driving force behind that, getting everybody on page.”

Another thing Polamalu and his wife Theodora have been a driving force behind is helping the military. The Harry Panos Fund is named after Theodora’s grandfather who fought in World War II. His stories inspired them to give back to those who have served, and those who continue to serve our country.

Polamalu has visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, taken part in Heroes at Heinz Field, an event that honors veterans who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, and has provided the opportunity for veterans and current military to attend Steelers games. Now, he wants to do more, as part of the proceeds from the event will focus on building a recreation room at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Hospital among other veterans needs.

“We want to be able to continue to bring them to football games, help put food on their table, a roof over their head,” said Polamalu. “We have been able to offer a lot of really cool opportunities and help people out.”

Polamalu is thrilled that he was able to bring together an event that helps the charities that mean so much to his family in a manner where everyone works together, something he stressed to those in Samoa.

“There are a lot of Samoan charities that are doing different things and are competing against each other,” said Polamalu. “Our message was let’s do something together. Let’s not compete. You don’t compete for charity. You don’t compete to help people. If you want to do something better, do it together.”


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Locker room quick hits

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 17, 2012 – 4:14 pm

A little bit of what players had to say in the locker room on Wednesday.

S Troy Polamalu

How do you guys turn the defense around?
We just have to execute better than their offense and their defense.

Did you hope to play this week?
I am always optimistic.

How is your injury different this time compared to a few weeks ago?
Those injury questions are for Coach Tomlin.

Do you feel injuries are an epidemic in the locker room?
I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if it is just us here. It seems we deal with it pretty seriously every year. I was made aware of Baltimore’s situation. It seems we face those types of situations year-in and year-out.

Re: Other team’s facing similar circumstances due to injury:
It’s never good. First we are human then we are football players.

T Max Starks

Re: Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson:
A lot of people say he’s not small, he’s short. He is a big dude that has a short body. He can create pressure by pushing guys back. He is quick enough to take the edge. He can force guys into bad positions. Michael Johnson is a very long guy. They are a good duo and a great combination.

Re: Advice for Mike Adams:
We are going to talk and work this week. We had a bonus day on Monday. When we are in meetings, we point out key things for him. Him and I will do some extra work on the side to make sure we are both prepared. Helping him actually helps me at the same time. I think he is mentally there. It’s just about making sure he is mentally sharp. There are some things he might not see as a backup, compared to a starting role. I think one of the biggest things is that he is going to have a great test on Sunday night.

C/G Doug Legursky

Re: Geno Atkins:
He is just a hard worker. He works really well with his hands. He has good leverage. He gets into people. He never stops. Their defensive linemen work well together to get their sacks. It’s going to be a challenge for us but every week is.

Re: Possible starting role:
You don’t come into this league and go into games wanting to be a backup. You always want to be a starter. It’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes, knowing you are only going to get in the game if someone gets hurt or we have a huge lead. I will always aspire to be a starter. I think everybody should.


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Injured players ready for Sunday

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 5, 2012 – 2:45 pm

Linebacker James Harrison, running back Rashard Mendenhall and safety Troy Polamalu are all listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field.

Harrison, who hasn’t played yet this season, said his knee felt good in practice this week and he is ready to go.

“Yeah, definitely I will be ready for Sunday,” said Harrison. “It felt good, especially on Monday. I was able to make it through the week without any problems. I was able to cope with what my knee was doing. I wasn’t reacting to it as much as I had before. I am just happy to be able to get back out there and contribute to help this team win.

“I will play as much as my wind will allow me to play. Obviously, I haven’t really done anything since last postseason. I am going out there and seeing what happens. It’s really just my first game back. We will see.”

Mendenhall also hasn’t played yet this season and said he won’t know how things are until the game gets rolling, a game which he isn’t sure how much playing time he will see or what the rotation at running back will be.

“I’m not sure who we’ll have playing,” said Mendenhall. “The game will tell us that and take care of itself. We’re all prepared. Come game time, it will all unfold.”

Polamalu is the only one of the three returning this week who has played this season, starting in the season opener in Denver. He deferred to Coach Mike Tomlin regarding his ability to play Sunday, but did say he is feeling better. Now the key is the kind of impact the three players will have upon their return.

“We’ll see,” said Polamalu. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Just because people have played and their resumes are out there doesn’t really mean much.”

Harrison said that there is no added pressure this week with the three players returning, but instead it’s just a matter of everyone focusing on doing their job.

 “There’s no more pressure than every other week,” said Harrison. “Our guys just need to go out there and execute their jobs. We have a lot of guys going out there and trying to do more than their part. With them trying to do that, they are not taking care of their jobs.”


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Right time to be at full strength

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 4, 2012 – 10:35 am


The Steelers defense should be at full strength on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, with safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison back at practice this week and expected to play.

Their return definitely will be a boost for the defense, and something the Eagles offense will have to prepare for.

“It gives you two players you have to scheme for offensively,” said safety Ryan Clark. “They are two players Coach (Dick) LeBeau can use extensively in his package and isolate and give them opportunities to make plays. Also, they are going to produce. You know what they are capable of. They seem extremely healthy right now, which is good for us and allows us to be the defense we have been for years.”

Polamalu has missed the last two games and Harrison hasn’t played yet this season. According to Clark while it does give the defense a lift, it also puts some pressure on them.

“I told them Monday first play no more excuses,” said Clark. “We can’t run in here and say we don’t have Troy or James. We have everybody we are supposed to have so we have to go out and make plays. You get a lift when they are out there running around, running to the ball and doing what they have done for years and we are definitely excited about that.”

Having Polamalu and Harrison back on the field couldn’t come at a better time as the Steelers are trying to rebound and improve on their 1-2 record against a tough 3-1Eagles team lead by Michael Vick. Vick can do damage with his arm and his ability to run with the ball, so the defense has to be on point at all times.

“Being able to run opens up a lot of avenues for the offense as a whole,” said Clark. “You see what Ben (Roethlisberger) can do, how he can extend plays, and you are talking about a guy who is different from any quarterback who has played the game in Michael Vick.”

Vick has been sacked 11 times through four games, so applying pressure on him is going to be a key for the defense.

“You have to hit him more than once,” said Clark. “He has been taking a pounding this year. You look at the first few weeks of the season, guys are getting to him, able to make him fumble and give the ball up. That is what you look to do. In trying to get to him you have to be sound in your technique and sound in your gaps. Where you see opponents try to exploit what he does, he can also exploit you if you are trying to make plays that are out of the sense of the defense.

“With Michael Vick it’s not always about making the play, but stopping him from making the play.”


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Tomlin expects injured players back

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 2, 2012 – 12:16 pm

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin expects to have all on hands on deck in practice on Wednesday, after everyone except Marcus Gilbert participated in Monday’s practice. And better yet, if all goes well in practice the rest of the week, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall could all play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field.

“Based on what I am looking at on how we worked yesterday I think that is a safe assessment,” said Tomlin when asked if they will play Sunday. “We will watch these guys as we proceed throughout the week. All guys have performed well and were able to get through practice and we’re optimistic that they’re going to be full participants.”

Polamalu has missed the last two games after playing against Denver, and Harrison has not seen game action yet this season, but both practiced Monday. Rashard Mendenhall also continued to practice, even though he has yet to see game action as well.

“Coming off the bye, I think it’s been a productive bye for us,” said Tomlin. “We’ve had the opportunity to work on some elements that we feel like need to be addressed in all three phases. At the same time we were able to get some of our injured men back.”

Harrison practiced last week as well, and worked out during the team’s bye. While Tomlin had not talked to Harrison yet to see how his knee responded to practicing, as he has had setbacks previously, he does know having him back healthy is a good thing.

“If he plays well and plays like James is capable of playing, obviously he’ll be an asset to us,” said Tomlin. “But, we’re not going to make excuses and we’re not going to sit around and wait for those that are not participating to participate. Injuries and so forth are a part of the game. When we have those guys, we’ll appreciate it. When we don’t have them, we’ll remain steadfast in our goals and our objectives.”

Having a healthy team will be a key for the Steelers, who are looking to get back on the winning track this week against the Eagles.

“It’s a big week for us,” said Tomlin. “Those are exciting things for us as we push into this week. It’s a big week for us coming off our last performance, but also having an opportunity to play at home in front of our fans against a really good team in the Philadelphia Eagles.”


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Getting Rashard back would be a boost

Posted by Teresa Varley on October 1, 2012 – 7:56 pm

It was back to business for the Steelers on Monday, after a four-day break for the bye week, and as they prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles the hope is they will get some of their injured players back on the field Sunday.

Among those who haven’t played yet this season, but whose return would be a huge boost to the offense, is running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall has been out since suffering an ACL injury at the end of last season and his presence could help a ground game that is averaging only 65 yards per game through three games.

“Rashard is one of the best in the league,” said wide receiver Mike Wallace. “When you get a guy back like that who is very explosive, has really good feet, a lot of vision, it’s going to boost our team.”

While his teammates talk about a potential return for him, Mendenhall still isn’t sure if he will be ready to play this week.

“I can’t say that,” said Mendenhall. “I am just trying to improve and take it one day at a time. We are all gauging it, going through it. When the time is ready I think we all need to be clear on it. We’re just taking it one day at a time. We will see.”

Mendenhall said he is preparing the same this week as he did week one of the season when he wasn’t able to play, but he is definitely making progress and benefitted from the days off during the bye week.

“It felt good,” said Mendenhall. “We are back at it, still taking it one day at a time. I’ve been improving every day. I am going to continue to work and prepare for the game, like I have every week.”

Safety Troy Polamalu hasn’t played since the first week of the season in Denver, and linebacker James Harrison has been sidelined all season as well. Polamalu, like Mendenhall, took advantage of the rest during the bye week.

“The more time off, the better,” said Polamalu. “It was a pretty early bye week for us but hopefully we can get some momentum going and we will see how this week turns out for us.”

Polamalu, who also didn’t comment on his status for this Sunday, instead deferring to Coach Mike Tomlin on whether or not he will be able to play, said he doesn’t know what kind of impact having him or Harrison back on the field will have on the defense until it actually happens.  

“I don’t know,” said Polamalu. “We will see once we all get on the field together. There are some other new faces out there that have become starters. It’s about how all 11 guys are playing together.”


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A time to heal for several Steelers

Posted by Teresa Varley on September 26, 2012 – 9:16 pm

Steelers’ players have the next four days off for their bye week, giving several who are ailing a chance to get healthy. Among those the team hopes to get back on the field after the bye are linebacker James Harrison, safety Troy Polamalu and running back Rashard Mendenhall.

“It would help,” said linebacker LaMarr Woodley, speaking about Harrison and Polamalu. “Those are our key guys. That makes a big difference for the defense.  Having them back will be great for our defense.  The bye week is always great. Having a few injuries, Troy and James, gives guys time to heal up and rest and come back and play.”

Harrison was on the field for the first time on Tuesday, but didn’t participate on Wednesday. Polamalu worked on both days.

While both players are expected to make an impact upon their return whenever that might be, their teammates also know they can’t depend solely on them to turn things around defensively.

“We have to get them back out there,” said safety Ryan Clark. “But I don’t think it’s fair to put that much pressure on those guys to say you are why we are not playing well. You can’t say the standard is the standard and say we aren’t playing well because they aren’t there. You can’t do that. The guys who are on the field need to perform.”

Mendenhall has been practicing regularly, even getting more physical contact for the first time last week. With the running game not getting in gear yet, having him back soon would be a welcome addition.

“Rashard is one of the best in the league,” said wide receiver Mike Wallace. “When you get a guy back like that who is very explosive, has really good feet, a lot of vision, it’s going to boost our team.”

The Steelers take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 7 at Heinz Field and getting any or all three of the injured players back for that game is something teammates are hoping for.

“You get a player like Rashard back, James and Troy and that will provide us a spark,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown. “They are key factors on our team and provide us an opportunity to win games. It will be great to have them back and this gives them time to recover.”


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