Steelers' Polamalu unlikely to change his ways


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Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu said he is aware of the medical research involving concussions and understands his style of play could be responsible for his recent head injuries.

He also said he is probably under a lot more scrutiny than most because of his history of concussion-related injuries, including two in the past six games.

But he said he "absolutely" can't dwell on that when he is on the playing field and is doubtful he will change the aggressive and explosive style of play he exhibits in a game.

"I don't know if it's possible, at this point, to change a style of play," Polamalu said. "That's the case for anybody in the NFL, even regarding the rules and fines that we have [for illegal hits]. We're instinctual players at this point. Of course, we're professional athletes, but it's still tough to change these habits we've formed since we were 8 years old."

Polamalu spoke Friday for the first time since he had what was termed "concussion-like symptoms" while making a tackle on the opening series Sunday night in Kansas City. Polamalu was removed from the game and didn't return, but he said he felt fine right after making the tackle on Chiefs offensive tackle Steve Maneri and could have returned to the game.

Polamalu declined to say what type of symptoms he experienced, but team sources have told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was dizzy for about 30 seconds. Those sources said he was "lucid and clear" by halftime and could have returned to the game.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the team wanted to "err on the side of caution" when they refused to let Polamalu return to the game.

It was never determined that Polamalu had a concussion. Nonetheless, it was the second time in six games Polamalu had what the Steelers termed "concussion-like symptoms."

Polamalu has practiced each of the past two days and will start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.

"I'm well aware of the research, well aware of the frenzy that has kind of surrounded this particular injury," Polamalu said. "I also realize with amount [of head injuries] I've had I'm probably under a lot more scrutiny and we're under a lot more scrutiny than other organizations."

Polamalu was asked if that scrutiny was being overblown.

"I don't know, to be honest. There's probably no more serious injury that someone can have than a concussion. You can function well with [injuries to] legs and arms and shoulders, but not with the brain. However, there is definitely a lot of attention that has been brought into this than we have had in the past."

Polamalu was injured when he came up on a swing pass to Maneri and hit the 290-pound offensive lineman with a low torpedo-like tackle -- the type of tackle Polamalu has been known to make as one of the top safeties in the NFL.

Asked if his head injuries were related to his style of play, Polamalu said: "Absolutely. That style of tackling does put you at risk. In those situations, I don't know how anybody could have done anything different, being third-and-1 and an offensive lineman in the flat."

Injury report

Barring an unforeseen setback, linebacker LaMarr Woodley will return after missing three games with a hamstring injury and start against the Bengals.

Woodley leads the team with nine sacks, but had 7 1/2 sacks in a four-game stretch preceding his injury.

One day after he aggravated his fractured right thumb taking a snap in practice, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger participated in a full practice and pronounced his thumb "good enough." Like Woodley, he is listed as probable on the official injury report, but will play against the Bengals.

Also, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey said he hasn't regained any additional weight but he went through a full practice and said he will start. Pouncey lost 12 pounds from a stomach virus that forced him to miss most of the game in Kansas City.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) returned to practice and will play. He was held out Thursday because his surgically repaired knee took a beating on the indoor artificial turf a day earlier.

Wide receiver Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) are the only players listed as out.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac . First Published December 3, 2011 5:00 AM


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