Polamalu and Harrison to play
Troy Polamalu laughs with his son between workouts at training camp Tuesday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
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After sitting out the first preseason game last week, Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison will play Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field.
It will be Polamalu's first chance to test his rehabilitated Achilles tendon in a game, even though the 2010 NFL defensive player of the year acknowledged the real test won't come until the regular season begins Sept. 11.
"I felt fine for the little sprinting I have done in practice, but game tempo, game speed is the only real test," Polamalu said Tuesday.
Polamalu sustained a slight tear of his Achilles tendon while returning an interception for a touchdown in the Dec. 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He sat out two games, but the injury appeared to affect his performance in the postseason because it robbed him of his trademark explosiveness.
Polamalu did not have surgery to repair the tendon because he was told rest and rehabilitation would heal the injury.
"I feel great now," Polamalu said. "Thank God, coach gives me a lot of rest to allow me to do things to get me healthy. Coach has been taking great care of me."
Coach Mike Tomlin said the starters will play between 20 to 25 plays, depending on circumstances.
"We usually don't want to frame it," Tomlin said. "We'll let the flow of the game talk to us."
Tomlin has ruled out seven players for the game against the Eagles, including three starters -- cornerbacks Ike Taylor (thumb) and Bryant McFadden (hamstring/quad) and offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee).
Taylor had thumb surgery Tuesday morning and was back at Saint Vincent College at noon, his left arm in a protective sling. He is scheduled to return in time for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in Baltimore.
"They said I was talking real crazy under the knife," Taylor said.
Tomlin said it is possible Taylor will practice with the team, but not play, while he recovers from surgery.
"That's Ike Taylor," Tomlin said. "We've come to expect that from that guy. He's as durable as any guy in football. He has the second-longest consecutive game streak at his position, behind Ronde Barber. More important than that, he doesn't miss practice. We've grown to know that is Ike and how he operates as a professional, which, of course, we appreciate."
Kemoeatu (knee) came off the physically-unable-to-perform list Sunday and has practiced each of the past three days. But he will be held out of the game because Tomlin doesn't think he has had enough practice time to warrant playing in a game.
Tomlin said Doug Legursky will start at left guard and Tony Hills will start at right guard.
Other players who already have been ruled out are wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Crezdon Butler and rookie free-agent linebacker Mario Harvey.
"There may be some others but those are the ones we are definitive about at this juncture," Tomlin said.
The list of scratches could also include defensive ends Aaron Smith (knee) and Brett Keisel (ankle). Smith has not practiced all week on the artificial turf, and Keisel returned Tuesday after missing the previous two days.
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery asked to be released from a contract with the New York Jets that had two years remaining and would have paid him $1.8 million in 2010. Instead, he signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum of $810,000 with the Steelers.
He is expected to make his first appearance with his new team against the Eagles and should get a lot of playing time.
"He's done a nice job of learning facets of the playbook," Tomlin said. "Hopefully, he'll put himself in position to contribute quite a bit, and I think he will."
Rookie running back John Clay, a free agent from Wisconsin, started to walk off the practice field Monday with about five minutes remaining in the afternoon session, causing a number of players to watch him and wonder where he was going.
Finally, one of the ballboys chased after him and brought him back to the field.
"Kirby yelled at him and told him [to] get off the field," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, referring to running backs coach Kirby Wilson. "He thought he meant all the way off the field."
Tomlin said he wasn't sure if wide receiver Limas Sweed (shoulder), who did not play against the Washington Redskins, would play against the Eagles. Sweed practiced Tuesday. "If he takes a step backward, he won't participate; if he does [progress], he probably will," Tomlin said. ... The Steelers will practice in pads this morning -- the second week in a row they have practiced in pads the day before a game. That will be the official end of training camp at Saint Vincent College.
First Published August 17, 2011 12:00 am