Headaches Bench Miller

Heath Miller missed practice Thursday and will probably miss Sunday's game. Troy Polamalu, meanwhile, is limping and unsure about Sunday. That and more in Jim Wexell's notebook.

PITTSBURGH – Heath Miller -- like Will Allen and Matt Spaeth before him – missed a game with a concussion, was cleared to practice the following week, but experienced headaches after he practiced.

So Miller missed yesterday's workout and the Steelers hope that, unlike Allen and Spaeth, their starting tight end will be able to come back and play Sunday against the New York Jets.

But it may be nothing more than hope.

"I sure got my fingers crossed," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "But we're going to do what's in his best interests and his family's. We're not going to force him. He's smart enough to make the right decision."

Miller was injured two Sundays ago by Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain, who was fined $40,000 by the league for a hit that twisted Miller's head and neck in an horrific fashion.

Miller missed last Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals but practiced Wednesday before sitting out Thursday. Miller underwent treatment after practice and was unavailable for comment.

"The way Heath explained it to me was the exact same thing I went through," said Spaeth, the backup tight end. "It's headaches and different things. It's like your head's telling you you're not ready."

Miller would miss an opportunity to take advantage of the Jets' injury woes at strong safety. Jim Leonhard is on IR and his replacement, Eric Smith, is out with a concussion. Smith's backup, James Ihedigbo, missed last week's game with ankle and knee injuries. The Jets moved cornerback Dwight Lowry to safety this week as an emergency fallback.

INJURY REPORT

Steelers who on Thursday missed their second practices this week were OLB James Harrison (illness), SS Troy Polamalu (ankle), NT Steve McLendon (stinger) and of course DE Aaron Smith (triceps). Polamalu has missed Wednesday and Thursday practices in all but one of the last four weeks after straining a muscle near his right Achilles' tendon against the New England Patriots. He aggravated the injury during his interception return for a touchdown last Sunday and is limping noticeably.

"It feels all right," he said. "It's coach [Mike] Tomlin's decision."

HOLMES WAITING TO EXHALE

During a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters on Wednesday, Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes held his tongue on his feelings about the Steelers, who traded him after four outstanding years of service for a fifth-round pick last April.

"I have no personal issues with any of my players and former teammates," he said. "I got along with everybody on the team."

And the front office?

"I was very upset at the time, but as far as right now I don't care about anything that goes on at the Steelers' facility right now."

Holmes had a bit more edge when discussing the Steelers with New York reporters. In Thursday's New York Post, Holmes said, "It's been on my mind for quite some time. Now I get a chance to play against these guys I played with for four years. Now it's definitely time to show these guys, ‘Why did they let me go?'"

In the Newark Star-Ledger, Holmes said, "I'm pretty sure (the fans) will give me a standing ovation once I get on the field. I'm pretty sure you'll look in the stands and see a lot of No. 10 jerseys with ‘Holmes' on the back."

But, Holmes warned those fans that the Steelers' defense will have its hands full. "It won't be pretty for them," he said.

SUISHAM KNOWS CFL STAR

The Steelers got a jump on their off-season on Tuesday by working out CFL receiving star Andy Fantuz. A source said Fantuz performed well, but "it wasn't a Cameron Wake workout."

Wake, of course, worked out with the Steelers a few years ago before jumping from the CFL to the Miami Dolphins, where he's become a star pass-rusher.

Fantuz spent the last five seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and caught 276 passes. Last season he caught 87 passes for 1,380 yards.

New Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham played against Fantuz in high school in Ontario, Canada and caught up with his old rival over lunch Tuesday.

"He said he had a good workout," Suisham said. "I'm happy for him. He came off a really good year so it looks like he'll be getting a chance in the NFL somewhere."

Suisham was a receiver and safety for Wallaceburg High and Fantuz was a receiver for neighboring rival Cheatham.

"He was a good player," said Suisham. "But not good enough to beat us."


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