Troy Polamalu pulled up the pantleg of his shorts. There it was, the black knee brace he wore throughout the week on his MCL sprain. He practiced yesterday for the first time this week and pronounced himself ready to play tomorrow against the undefeated Minnesota Vikings.
He might play in that brace, too.
After shedding the contraption in his return start last weekend against Cleveland following a 4 1/2-game absence, this all-everything safety said yesterday he will give it a whirl against Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the other people in purple.
"I'll probably try it on Sunday," said Polamalu, who had four tackles and an interception in the victory against the Browns. "Of course, it's bothersome to wear. There was no way I could get into a gallop." But, he added, it feels slightly less restrictive and cumbersome with further wear as in practice yesterday.
With Polamalu returning and reserve linebacker Andre Frazier (thigh) back for a full practice, the Steelers had no other player ailments to report. Minnesota had plenty, though.
The most noticeable potential absentee of the Vikings' lot is Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, who missed all three practice days this week and wore a walking boot on his sprained right foot Thursday. He is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play. Darius Reynaud of West Virginia (hamstring), averaging 17.3 yards per punt return, also is considered doubtful.
In Winfield's absence Sunday, when he was hurt before halftime, Baltimore's Joe Flacco passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns -- 244 and both touchdowns in the second half -- before the visiting Ravens lost, 33-31, when Steve Hauschka missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired. Backup Karl Paymah played in Winfield's place, although backup Benny Sapp might move into that left-cornerback spot.
Also on the Minnesota injury report yesterday were starting safety Madieu Williams (quadricep), fourth-leading receiver Percy Harvin (shoulder) and reserve safety Husain Abdullah (back) listed as questionable, and, listed as probable, star running back Adrian Peterson (ankle); starting right offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle); and backup safety Eric Frampton (ankle).
Halfback and third-down specialist Mewelde Moore avoided the subject of his former team this week. It is possible his free-agent exit from the Vikings in spring 2008, what with the Minnesota presence of Peterson and Chester Taylor, may have left some hurt feelings. If so, he is not saying.
Asked if he noticed any additional motivation on the part of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, another ex-Vikings employee, Moore replied: "No, we've kept it all the same. You got to play the same way. You got to go out there and be you."
He admitted that Tomlin pulled him aside at one point this past week.
"He said something, but I'm not going to talk about it," Moore added, punctuating it with a chuckle.
Defensive end Aaron Smith, still battling illness before he can have rotator-cuff surgery, was curled up behind a column in the indoor practice facility making a cell-phone call when a Jeff Reed cross-field practice kick accidentally strayed left and thunked Smith on the back.
Smith, still on the phone, shot the kicker a look.
Chuck Finder can be reached at email@example.com . First Published October 24, 2009 4:00 AM