Safety Troy Polamalu will not play tomorrow night when the Steelers face the Carolina Panthers in a nationally televised game at Heinz Field, the second game in a row he has missed with an Achilles-related injury.
However, if the Steelers need to win their regular-season finale at Cleveland on Jan. 2 to secure one of the first-round playoff byes, it is possible Polamalu, a five-time Pro Bowl safety, will return for that game.
But, if the Steelers beat the Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens lose in Cleveland on Sunday, the Steelers would clinch a first-round bye, rendering meaningless the final game against the Browns. In that scenario, Polamalu would not return until the playoffs.
Polamalu injured an area near his Achilles tendon returning an interception for touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in a Dec. 12 game at Heinz Field. He never missed a play after that and even had another interception in the fourth quarter, but he hasn't practiced since.
Polamalu leads the team with six interceptions and has four in the past three games in which he has played. He is a leading candidate for NFL defensive player of the year.
First Published December 22, 2010 6:30 PM