The bad news is he'll miss this week's game, and the next, and possibly six total. And if his lateral movement is restricted, as it often is with MCL injuries, the Steelers' All-Pro strong safety could miss even more time.
What does it mean for the Steelers?
"The way Coach (Mike) Tomlin tries to program us," said free safety Ryan Clark, "in his words, ‘the standard does not change.' That's how we try to take it and go out there and play. But I would be foolish to try to tell you guys it won't be different without him, and y'all would be even more foolish to print it. He's the best safety in football, bar none. When you lose a guy like that, it's hard, for me especially. He's my best friend on the team. We tell each other before each game how exciting it is to do it one more time. So he's going to be missed. But we're going to come out and play and hold the fort down until he gets back."
Tyrone Carter, a solid tackler with limited range, will replace Polamalu at strong safety. In the quarter defense, where Polamalu was the dime safety who lined up as a linebacker, Ryan Mundy will be the replacement.
Lawrence Timmons can also handle the dime safety responsibilities, but he missed Monday's practice with his sprained ankle. "With Troy, you like to get him down in the box, let him run, let him play. But I think Tyrone is more of that type of safety, too," Clark said. "What's crazy though is Troy's probably a lot better DB in space also, so putting him in cover-2 for us is also a good thing. I think Coach (Dick) Lebeau's going to pretty much call the game like he calls it every week. If we have to run cover-2, we will. If not, I think you'll see Tyrone in the box."
RUN GAME GUARANTEES
Willie Parker became so tired of listening to announcers talk about all the other great offensive lines and running backs in the league – while he watched football on Sunday – he reported to the Steelers' practice facility Monday morning and met with the offensive linemen. "I let them know I really cared about them and we really have to get this show back on the road," Parker said. "We've got to be the talk of the town."
Parker gained only 19 yards on 13 carries Thursday, a career low in games in which he carried more than five times. His per-carry average of 1.46 is also a career low.
"Me being a running back, if you want to point the blame or point fingers at anybody, look at me first," he said. "I'm the runner, so I've got to make things happen in the running game."
Parker believes the problem is only a matter of cleaning up technique and is certain the running game will bounce back.
"It always does," he said. "It's the beginning of the season. A lot of us haven't been playing. Santonio (Holmes) had a great game, even though he hasn't been playing in preseason. That wasn't the case with me, so I know we're going to be all right."
* Hines Ward on his late-game, goal-line fumble against Tennessee: "The guy made a great play. He donkey-konged the ball. He hammered right on the ball."
* Parker on the season-ending injury to Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher: "I'm a competitor and I want to play against the best. He's one of their better linebackers so I was looking forward to playing against Urlacher."