Steelers Notebook

Maurkice Pouncey and James Harrison played with pain. Troy Polamalu hit a Mack truck. LaMarr Woodley can't talk (with coach watching). Here are their stories in Wednesday's notebook:

PITTSBURGH – Maurkice Pouncey stayed away from practice Wednesday to get another day of rest before returning from a stomach virus that had him down late last week and through Sunday's game in Kansas City.

Pouncey missed pre-game warm-ups Sunday night because of the bug, and then played only a quarter-plus against the Chiefs before leaving the game sick. But in that quarter-plus, Pouncey played as well and with as much energy as he ever has.

"That's Pounce," said his close friend and right tackle Marcus Gilbert. "He wanted to go back out but coach [Mike] Tomlin wouldn't let him. It was pretty bad. He got an IV back in the locker room. He was sick as a dog. He's still under the weather, but he'll be back."

Pouncey didn't play like he was sick. He was his typical feisty self with the Chiefs, particularly Kelly Gregg. Also, when tempers flared between Mike Wallace and a Chiefs defensive back Pouncey sprinted from the sideline to the center of the field to assist his teammate.

Those aren't the actions of a sick man, are they?

"You should've seen him between plays," said right guard Ramon Foster. "If you watch the TV copy you don't see him bent over. At one point I was smacking his back to try to get the cold up out of him. He was deathly ill. He was really hurting. But his attitude is to play, and if he's playing he's playing hard.

"You can't buy that kind of stuff nowhere," Foster added. "That's just him."

POUNCEY WASN'T ALONE

James Harrison also played at several notches less than 100 percent, but wouldn't admit it.

Harrison did say he experienced upper back problems, not the lower-back problems with which he's struggled since undergoing two surgeries last off-season.

"The lower back is doing good," he said. "I had upper back spasms. That's why I didn't do too much on Friday (at practice)."

Harrison was asked if the upper back issue slowed him down Sunday night.

"Nope," he said.

POLAMALU ABSENT

Troy Polamalu is expected to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals after Tomlin reported his strong safety has not experienced any concussion symptoms since leaving the playing field Sunday night.

However, Polamalu was nowhere to be seen at the practice facility Wednesday. Polamalu's partner in the deep patrol, Ryan Clark, was asked if he, like Polamalu, had ever come up to slam into a receiver out of the backfield, only to find out it was a 300-pound tackle.

"Oh, I do that, on purpose though," said Clark. "The difference between Troy and I is I would've hit him in the chest because I feel like that's where I have my best chance. Troy's really good at getting people on the ground that way (by hitting low). That's just what he does. He's special at it. So for him sometimes I think it puts him in the way of knees and things like that."

WOODLEY BACK

As expected, LaMarr Woodley returned to practice Wednesday and could play Sunday against the Bengals. He answered questions for reporters with a smile and few words as Tomlin, his coach, stood with the reporters right in front of Woodley.


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