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Polamalu passes concussion test, could play Sunday

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By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A violent collision with Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew's churning knees won't be enough to keep Pittsburgh Steelers S Troy Polamalu out of the lineup.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is "good to go" after passing a concussion test. The team removed Polamalu from the game midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's 17-13 win over the Jaguars with concussion-like symptoms.

Tomlin believes Polamalu was injured while diving at Jones-Drew's legs on a 3rd-and-1 play. Polamalu stuffed Jones-Drew for no gain, forcing the Jaguars to punt. The All-Pro safety watched Pittsburgh's final two defensive series from the sidelines as the Steelers (4-2) held on to win their second straight.

"We anticipate him practicing tomorrow and moving on throughout the week like everyone else on our football team," Tomlin said.

The Steelers initially termed Polamalu's condition as a "very mild" concussion and took him out of the game as a precaution. Polamalu kept his helmet on save for a brief phone conversation with his wife.

The call is technically in violation of league rules, though Tomlin doesn't expect Polamalu — who declined to speak to reporters after the game — to be disciplined. Tomlin said it was important for Polamalu, who has a history of concussions, to assure his family he was OK.

"He wasn't checking his bank account," Tomlin said.

The Steelers will need Polamalu if they want to keep Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in check. Fitzgerald torched the Steelers for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the 2009 Super Bowl, though Pittsburgh rallied for a 27-23 victory.

"He's the best in the world at what he does," Tomlin said of Fitzgerald.

So, arguably, is Polamalu. The nine-year veteran is second on the team with 40 tackles for the NFL's top-ranked defense.

Tomlin is pleased with how the defense is performing, but knows stiffer tests lay ahead. The four teams the Steelers have beaten rank 19th (Tennessee), 30th (Seattle), 31st (Indianapolis) and 32nd (Jacksonville) in the league in yards per game.

Even so, Pittsburgh hasn't been dominant. The Steelers have collected an NFL-low two turnovers through six games and barely escaped upsets at the hands of the lowly Colts and Jaguars, who are a combined 1-11.

Tomlin would like to see more "signature" plays from the defense but not at the price of being out of position.

"What we're not going to do is take calculated risks," Tomlin said.

They don't see one in clearing Polamalu to play.

"He met with our neurosurgeon," Tomlin said, "and they're very comfortable with where he is."

The Steelers will once again play without LB James Harrison (eye), NT Casey Hampton (knee) and DE Aaron Smith (foot). OG Doug Legursky will be out several weeks after suffering a dislocated toe against Jacksonville, though the line should be helped by the return of Chris Kemoeatu and Marcus Gilbert. Kemoeatu has missed two straight games with a knee injury while Gilbert didn't play against the Jaguars because of an issue with his left shoulder.

Tomlin is hopeful both players can help an offense that has only put together two solid halves once in the season's first six weeks.

Pittsburgh dominated Jacksonville for two quarters on Sunday, piling up 315 yards. The Steelers managed just 70 in the second half as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed just one pass and was sacked three times, allowing the Jaguars to get back in the game.

The Steelers will need to be on their game on Sunday against the desperate Cardinals (1-4). Pittsburgh is just 1-2 on the road and easily could be winless if not for a game-winning drive in the final minutes against the Colts.

"It's very obvious we've performed to a winning level at home, we haven't done so on the road," Tomlin said. "We've got to perform better on the road than we have."

 

©2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

 

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