Steelers Notebook: Despite spinal jolt Hoke set to play

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Nose tackle Chris Hoke is among the fortunate: He was diagnosed with the same injury that temporarily paralyzed former quarterback Tommy Maddox five years ago, even though he did not suffer the same effect on the field.

Hoke said he sustained a spinal cord concussion against the Arizona Cardinals, an injury that forced him to leave the game in the fourth quarter and not return. Hoke, though, was able to walk off the field and has not missed a day of practice this week. He expects to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field.

That was unlike what happened to Maddox Nov. 17, 2002, when he laid motionless on the field, unable to feel or move his limbs, and had to be carted off on a stretcher in a game in Nashville, Tenn.

Maddox began walking the next day and was eventually diagnosed with a spinal cord concussion.

"I had like a tingling sensation through my body," said Hoke, a backup nose tackle. "But, if you watch me fall to the ground, you can see my body is limp but my arms are kind of wiggling."

Polamalu might sit out

Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu did not play the second half in Arizona with what was diagnosed as torn rib cartilage, but was not even listed among the injured players by coach Mike Tomlin

How can that be?

Polamalu was initially said to have sustained an abdominal strain when he was tackled on a fumble return against the Cardinals. But because the Steelers did not have the medical equipment to properly evaluate his injury, he was kept from the game as a precautionary measure.

The cartilage tear was not detected until the team returned to Pittsburgh. Polamalu did not practice again yesterday and might not play against the Seahawks. He would be replaced by second-year safety Anthony Smith.

"I feel good, but I don't know [if I'll play]," Polamalu said. "It depends if [coach Mike Tomlin] wants something to linger for 10 weeks. That's the danger with any injury. It's definitely an injury than can get worse."

Injury update

In addition to Polamalu, nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) and No. 3 cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) did not practice.

Hampton's status will be determined today. McFadden is not expected to play against the Seahawks.

Ward possible

Hines Ward still has not practiced since he sustained a sprained knee Sept. 23 against the San Francisco 49ers, but he said he is feeling good and his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule.

Ward, a 10-year veteran, has missed only four games in his career, but three have come in the past nine games, dating to last season. The most recent was in Arizona, when he was deactivated and replaced by Nate Washington.

Ward said he might try to test his injured knee today in practice. If he doesn't, and with a bye week coming up, he likely won't play against the Seahawks.

"As players, we hate to miss games," Ward said. "These are games I can never get back.

"But, at the same time, you have to look at the big picture. We have a bye coming up and the stretch after that we have three division games and the Denver Broncos on road. I have to be smart about it. That's the best thing for me to do for the team."

Big Ben to start

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had his foot stepped on against Arizona and did not practice Wednesday, participated in all team drills yesterday and said he felt fine.

He will start against the Seahawks.


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