Friday, September 29, 2006
By Chuck Finder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Troy Polamalu will return to work Monday on three days' rest.
"I definitely couldn't pitch, though."
No worries there, for his job requirement as Steelers strong safety includes almost everything but that. Yet he expects, after this weekend off, to report back to the South Side complex hale and problem-free for San Diego. There, in nine days' time, he aims to return to his native Southern California and to return to form as the Troy Polamalu the NFL knows and, well, fears: flowing mane, pinballing body, roaming Qualcomm Stadium tackling and blitzing and covering Chargers.
"I feel fine now," Polamalu said yesterday after an abbreviated practice, after which the Steelers scattered for a bye-weekend respite. Polamalu's destination: home, rest, recuperation from a right shoulder that has pained him since the first half of that season-opening victory against Miami. "We'll find out in San Diego if it still bothers me. But I don't anticipate it bothering me."
The shoulder doesn't frustrate him as much as the Steelers' 1-2 start, he maintained ("I'd feel a lot better if we were 3-0"). But it is the hazy variety of injury where the best prescription remains a simple remedy: Just chill.
"There's nothing you can do," he said. "Only rest.
"The bad thing about it is, there's nothing you could shoot up for a game, either."
Polamalu, a player so particular about his own body that he disdains weight training for an individually tailored workout regimen, has taken the needle before. The result, however, wasn't an overly positive memory. He was forced to miss the final game of his senior season at USC because an injection into an aching hamstring caused numbness that temporarily paralyzed him. The same affliction, he noted, befell Jerome Bettis' injured groin muscle the morning of an AFC playoff date with Baltimore in the 2001 season.
The current ailment has yet to sideline Polamalu. No such injury has been able to remove him from a game to date. Polamalu has started 41 consecutive games and played in all 57 regular-season and postseason contests in his career. Thus far in 2006, this Pro Bowl safety intercepted a Miami pass late, batted away two passes and nearly picked off one against Jacksonville and collected four tackles against Cincinnati -- all while playing with one healthy arm.
That was what Bill Cowher meant when he talked about a one-armed Polamalu being a better alternative than most fit defensive backs in the league.