Disputes abound about which player the Steelers can least afford to lose. No debate is creditable without including strong safety Troy Polamalu in the discussion.
The Steelers have never provided evidence for that one because Polamalu has not missed a game in his three previous seasons. However, coach Bill Cowher yesterday listed his All-Pro safety as questionable for the game Monday night in Jacksonville because of a shoulder injury from Thursday's 28-17 victory against Miami at Heinz Field.
Cowher said yesterday he did not know how Polamalu's shoulder was injured and provided no more details. He said Thursday night that the injury occurred in the first half.
Polamalu could be seen on the sideline having his shoulder looked at -- just before he returned to the field in the fourth quarter and intercepted a pass from Miami quarterback Daunte Culpepper to help sustain the Steelers' lead.
Polamalu has made the past two Pro Bowls and has helped make the Steelers' defense more complicated for opposing quarterbacks because of his versatility. He's in constant movement before and after the snap and can play safety, linebacker, cornerback and rush the passer.
He started every game the past two seasons and played in every game as a rookie in 2003. Polamalu ranked third on the team last year with 100 tackles, tops in the secondary. He also had three fumble recoveries and two interceptions, and his three sacks in one game tied an NFL record for a safety.
Cowher also listed tight end Jerame Tuman as questionable for Monday's game, as well as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Tuman missed the opener with a hamstring injury.
"Jerame will work [today] and we will see how he feels Thursday and we will have more of an update on him later in the week," Cowher said.
The coach listed three players as probable this week: Receiver Hines Ward (hamstring), receiver Nate Washington (knee) and tackle Max Starks (knee).Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
James Farrior, right, congratulates teammate Troy Polamalu after he intercepted a Dolphins pass Thursday at Heinz Field.
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