Polamalu, Woodley Expected Back

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says both of his star defenders should be back for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That and more from Tomlin PC.

The Steelers will be back to full health Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with the expected return of Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley.

Polamalu left Sunday night's game in Kansas City after smacking his head on the knee of tackle-turned-fullback Steve Maneri, a 290-pound reserve lineman who had caught a pass in the flat.

Polamalu crashed into Maneri's knee, tried to get off the ground, but went back down before the Steelers' training staff tended to him and held him out of the remainder of the game because of "concussion-like symptoms."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly press conference that Polamalu became "asymptomatic relatively quickly Sunday night."

Did Polamalu lobby to get back into the game?

"He always does," Tomlin said.

Tomlin said that Polamalu hasn't experienced any concussion symptoms since then.

"All things are positive in terms of his potential participation this week," Tomlin said. "We'll continue to err on the side of caution."

The Steelers are cautious with Polamalu because his departure from Sunday night's game was his second such departure (Jacksonville the other) this season, and he's a player who's endured more than a half-dozen confirmed concussions in his playing career.

Tomlin was asked if Polamalu's history makes him more susceptible or vulnerable to such injuries in the future?

"I don't have the answer to that," Tomlin said. "I'm no medical expert, and I think maybe those guys don't have a definitive answer to that. Obviously we're sensitive to his concussion history and we're always going to exercise the necessary precautions because of that."

As for Woodley, the precautions have vanished. After missing the last three games with a hamstring injury, Tomlin said he'll play Sunday against the visiting Bengals.

"We'll watch him this week to solidify that, but we like where he is," Tomlin said.

Tomlin also expects to have center Maurkice Pouncey back. Pouncey played the first quarter and another series in Kansas City with a stomach virus before leaving the game. "He's dehydrated and has lost a significant amount of weight," Tomlin said.

Reserve linebacker Chris Carter is "questionable at best" with a hamstring injury, and reserve inside linebacker Larry Foote will be watched this week with a hamstring injury that's "a lesser extent than Chris Carter's."

Tomlin is also hopeful that reserves Arnaz Battle and Stevenson Sylvester are ready to return.

LOOKING BACK: Tomlin began his review of Sunday night's win by complimenting three of his "young and developing players" for their play in Kansas City: Weslye Saunders, Ryan Mundy and Jason Worilds.

"I acknowledge the A players," Tomlin said of the rest of the team. "But we'll need more help from obscure places. … I thought it was pivotal in the football game."

Tomlin called the offense's 3 for 11 conversion rate on third downs "our worst performance of the season." He called it "the difference in our production offensively."

Tomlin also criticized his team's return game, "both punts and kicks," he said. Part of the problem was his decision to replace return man Antonio Brown on kickoffs with Emmanuel Sanders.

"We did it when they were both rookies," Tomlin said. "We want to keep both of those men in play, not only as kickoff return men but as punt return men, also."

LOOKING AHEAD: In talking about the Bengals – whom the Steelers played three Sundays and two games ago – Tomlin first praised rookie Andrew Hawkins. The 5-7 slot receiver caught 5 passes for 56 yards against the Steelers after catching exactly 5 passes for 56 yards in the previous five games of his career.

Since the playing the Steelers, Hawkins has caught 6 more passes for 74 yards against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

"They use him to break down pressure," Tomlin said. "They're getting him in favorable matchups versus non-corner-like bodies."

Tomlin also complimented Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins as "the hot player," as well as the "quality relationship" between Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Tomlin said the duo has developed at rapid clip the last few weeks due to the injury to wide receiver A.J. Green, who returned last Sunday.

Steel City Insider Top Stories